The bicycling State of Ohio

 A crew of ODOT employees discovers how easy it is to bike the West Side. Photo credit: Meredith Joy

A crew of ODOT employees discovers how easy it is to bike the West Side. Photo credit: Meredith Joy

Over the past couple months, in a pilot program similar to the one we offered in 2015 (results here), Yay Bikes! Ride Buddies Meredith Joy and Deo Martinez have ridden with 48 state agency employees. We don't yet have the data from this round of programming fully collected or analyzed, but what we have so far reaffirms for me the value of a human touch in our work. After an extremely short ride experience, at least 2 people are giving up their parking passes; almost 30 have purchased annual CoGo bike share memberships; several have begun riding again after many years and more! Entire workplaces are being transformed as 10+ people within them have learned how to ride and gained access to bike share during their work day. As always, it's been magical. 

This was a great experience! I don’t think I would have felt confident enough to ride on the road without this. I hope more people take advantage of it!
— Ride Buddy participant
 Wellness Ambassadors from several agencies are partners in getting people out to ride with us. Photo credit: Ben Ko

Wellness Ambassadors from several agencies are partners in getting people out to ride with us. Photo credit: Ben Ko

What they learned

I always find it fascinating what people learned from riding with us. Again, this is an extremely short ride we're talking about—1 hour, 3ish miles. But what it opens up for people is nothing short of extraordinary. People come out of the rides understanding bike law and their right to the road, how to use various forms of bicycle infrastructure, where to access amazing parks and trails, why people who ride make the choices they do, about local resources that can support their ability to ride, how to use hand signals and on and on. It does make one wonder—what would happen on our streets if everyone had the benefit of some on-road bicycle education. Hmmm....! 

Consider my mind blown that riding a few feet to the left of where people assume they should ride their bike makes an extremely stressful situation into a normal traffic experience.
— Ride Buddy participant
 Ohio Department of Health employees putting their bikes where their mouths are...uhhh...or something like that! Photo credit: Meredith Joy

Ohio Department of Health employees putting their bikes where their mouths are...uhhh...or something like that! Photo credit: Meredith Joy

What they were surprised by

Even more fascinating is what people find surprising on the ride. Two recurring themes are that people are surprised by how many rights they have as a cyclist, and by how much less stressful it is than expected to ride on the road. People have built up a lot of fear about what it must be like to ride in the street, but the come to discover that, for the most part, drivers are quite lovely. In the proper lane position, they find they are like rocks in a stream, with faster traffic flowing around them peacefully. Busy streets previously inaccessible to them are suddenly in play.

[I was surprised to realize] the large downtown streets are actually ok.
— Ride Buddy participant
 The Ohio Departments of Education and Higher Education booked 3 rides with us! Photo credit: Jeff Gove

The Ohio Departments of Education and Higher Education booked 3 rides with us! Photo credit: Jeff Gove

Their favorite part

Of course, we here at Yay Bikes! don't just ride for the sake of it. Bicycling is what you experience and discover along the way! Fittingly, many of our riders have cited our ride through Scioto Audubon Metro Park and the trail into Downtown along the Scioto River as their favorite part of their experience. Between the goldenrod blooms and the breathtaking waterfront views of Columbus' skyline, it's no wonder! Many of our riders had never visited the park, and many others weren't aware of how a bike path connects it so readily to Downtown. Win! 

[My favorite part was] the beauty of the Audubon area and seeing how it connects with the Scioto Mile.
— Ride Buddy participant
 Riders discover how easy it is to use CoGo to ride into Downtown from Scioto Audubon Metro Park. Photo credit: Deo Martinez

Riders discover how easy it is to use CoGo to ride into Downtown from Scioto Audubon Metro Park. Photo credit: Deo Martinez

 Riding the path into Downtown from Scioto Audubon Metro Park. Photo credit: Ben Ko

Riding the path into Downtown from Scioto Audubon Metro Park. Photo credit: Ben Ko

Yay Bikes! is grateful to the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Ohio Department of Health for their extraordinary commitment to active transportation. This program would not be available without their support and investment. As of this writing, funds are available for several more rides. If you work at a state agency in or near downtown, contact Meredith to schedule a one-hour ride experience for you or your team. It's magic, I tell ya.