Ten years ago, Meredith Joy found herself at a particularly low moment. An organization she started became something she didn’t want to be a part of anymore. There was much drama. She was frustrated and angry and very sad.
But as she was traveling from one location to another on her bike, she felt her mood turn. That is the kind of thing that happens when a person is traveling by bike. With a breath of relief she exclaimed “Yay Bikes!”
Meredith is wicked smart. She persistently looks for solutions then sets about to see them implemented. She had been a transportation rider for years motivated by concerns for the environment. She had also done significant research on women and biking and was about to graduate from OSU with a Masters in City and Regional Planning. The air was cool on that March day, but the sun was shining. She allowed herself to hope and plan.
And that my dear friends, was the beginning of Yay Bikes!
Meredith strategically pulled together a group of other smart, passionate, hard working folks. They spanned the age spectrum: a young adult in college, a young professional a few years into her career, a few seasoned professionals, and a person close to retirement. They represented key professions: transportation engineers, a transportation planner, a social worker, an IT guru, and a working class guy committed to volunteering. All of them understood the importance of how roads are designed, and also the importance of the cultural environment in welcoming people to move from place to pace by bike. Who feels welcome and why? What do family members think of people traveling by bike? How do work places accommodate employees who come to work by bike? What role does race, gender, and socioeconomic status play?
With that frame, they set off to help people feel good about using a bike for transportation right here in the heart of Ohio. Their goals were simple. Save the environment. Improve community health. Help neighbors know each other. Create peaceful streets.
In Meredith’s words, “Yay Bikes! believes that riding a bike is an important thing people can do to feel profoundly connected to their best selves, to their fellow (wo)man, to their place and the environment, to their version of The Divine. We believe that riding a bike is an unique experience in that regard—notably different from the experience most of us have driving a car. And because it offers such rare and profound connectedness we believe that bicycling transforms lives. Yay Bikes! exists because bicycling provides access to transformation. Especially so for those who choose to ride, but even among those who don't, whose lives are safer, more peaceful and altogether more enjoyable when cyclists take to the streets. A bike friendly world is a better world, for all of us!”
Over the next year, we are going to take some time to celebrate the 10th birthday of this fantastic vision and the steps being taken to actualize it. Join us March 31st at Studio 35 with a movie party made up of inspiring, extravagant, silly, and wonderful short films celebrating all types of bike love and adventures, and hear about the work happening in Central Ohio. Head into April celebrating #30daysofbiking, with local rides and events.
Over the next year, you will hear stories of others who have invested in this work and receive instructions on how to join them. We’ll announce opportunities to:
participate in the creation of a bike friendly community,
learn how to ride joyfully in places and weather that seems elusive or absurd,
hear from decision makers and advocate for safe streets, and
celebrate the positive movements you, me. we ALL, have made and are making.
Yay Bikes! Yay You! Yay US!
Executive Director Yay Bikes!
President of the Meredith Joy is a Rockstar Fan Club