Yay Bikes! Journeys recount how Yay Bikes! is transforming lives and communities, from the perspective of those we’ve impacted. In this installment, we hear from Yay Bikes! Board Member Duane McCoy about how Yay Bikes! has helped him feel safe riding the streets in his neighborhood, and given him a meaningful outlet for uplifting his community.
A HAPPY ACCIDENT: "I didn't know a thing about Yay Bikes! when I signed up for a volunteer shift at the Comfest bike corral."
Duane McCoy's passions are volunteerism and community. With a personal goal to devote at least 10 hours a month to giving back, he is always looking for new ways to help. And so, one year for Comfest, he randomly picked a gig that seemed fun: volunteering in their newfangled bike corral. He claims to have fallen in love immediately with Catherine (as in Girves, current Yay Bikes! Executive Director), who was running the show at that time. "She's awesome at cultivating followers," he said. Indeed, he's followed her for almost 9 years since...
ASSUMING LEADERSHIP: "I was really looking for a way to take my passion for volunteering and community to a new level."
Many shifts in the bike corral later, and Duane had graduated from the United Way of Central Ohio's Pride Leadership program, which prepares LGBT community members for board leadership. Catherine had recently assumed the role of Yay Bikes! Executive Director, and set to snatching him up before other organizations had a chance. Duane joined the Yay Bikes! board in May of 2014 and, though he won't quite admit it, has since become a powerful advocate for bicycling, both in Columbus and Grange Insurance, where he works in operations.
SAFER TRAVELS: "My neighbors love, love, LOVE the new bike lanes on Summit and Fourth Streets—as do Mike & I. We haven't had to use a trail to get around in ages!"
Duane still doesn't consider himself a big-time cyclist-type, but he appreciates how Yay Bikes!' education and advocacy efforts have improved his experience of traveling in his neighborhood. When he does ride, he feels far more peaceful than he used to—the new bike lanes near his house help him feel protected, motorists seem more aware of cyclists, bicyclists have become more predictable. There is much less chaos on the roads than there used to be, he says. "We have such a fun, vibrant, kind bicycle community here, and it's making a real difference for people—even people like myself, who aren't that hardcore. I feel fortunate that Yay Bikes! provides me so many opportunities to make my neighborhood, my workplace and my city even more fantastic than they already are."
Yay Bikes! is grateful to Duane for his spirit of giving, his integrity and his good humor. We appreciate his willingness to step up no matter the task—advocacy, bike parking, tabling events, board leadership and more—and bring his lovely husband, Mike, along for the ride. What a lucky 'twofer' for us!
Helmets off to you, friends!
To share your Yay Bikes! Journey, contact Meredith to set up a chat!