From the saddle

Influencing the influencers

 MORPC region professionals! Photo credit: Kerstin Carr

MORPC region professionals! Photo credit: Kerstin Carr

When Yay Bikes! works to advance our mission, we are guided by the powerful and uniquely clear theory of change we've developed over the years. We've taken to calling it "The Yay Way!", and it's pretty much omnipresent within our organization. What's perhaps lesser known is through whom we enact our vision for a bike friendly world—or, rather, the primary audiences we believe can help us effect change. There are two: 1) those who want to ride now, whether they are cyclists or still bike curious, without waiting on bicycle-specific street infrastructure and 2) the professionals who are in a position to influence the conditions cyclists encounter when they ride. And I'm happy to report that we've recently had occasion to impact both groups statewide, courtesy the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Ohio Department of Health. And I'm even more happy to report that there's a way you can be involved in this work (scroll to the bottom of this post to learn more)! 

RIDE BUDDY TRAINING

August 23–25 we hosted 10 bicycle advocates from around the state (representing Richland County, Athens, Akron and Stark County in addition to Columbus) at a training designed to provide them the skills to design and lead How We Roll and Ride Buddy–style rides, a la The Yay Way! These intrepid souls spent much of their 2.5-day training on the road, creating and riding routes and practicing their scripts. They'll now be taking what they learned back into their communities to teach others how to ride roads for their everyday travel! 

 A group of trainees from around the state learn how to deliver Ride Buddy and How We Roll rides. Photo credit: Meredith Erlewine

A group of trainees from around the state learn how to deliver Ride Buddy and How We Roll rides. Photo credit: Meredith Erlewine

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT RIDES

So far, transportation, parks, health, utilities, economic development, elected officials, law enforcement and planning professionals from numerous communities—Zanesville, Worthington, Troy, Columbus, Miamisburg, Westerville, Powell/Liberty Township, Bexley, Gahanna, Reynoldsburg, Mansfield/Richland County and Fremont, among others—are riding with us to understand how they can better accommodate people who ride for transportation. On routes we create, with help from our members, that showcase the good, bad and ugly of riding in their communities, they get to experience their streets from the perspective of a cyclist. And because they really want to design bike friendly communities and just aren't sure quite what they don't know they don't know, these rides literally transform how people understand their jobs. 

The cool part? You can be involved in this part of our work. (scroll, scroll, scroll) 

 Zanesville professionals! Photo credit: David Curran

Zanesville professionals! Photo credit: David Curran

 Worthington professionals! Photo credit: Meredith Joy

Worthington professionals! Photo credit: Meredith Joy

We invite anyone who's a Yay Bikes! member to provide input to the rides we deliver to transportation professionals. What works for cyclists there? What doesn't? What would you love for the people who design your roads to understand? On vetting rides before each professional development ride with the professionals, we invite members to provide input. 

Why members only? Well, because we carefully solicit and curate all input, and invest a lot of staff time in that process. We're happy to do it—it is, in fact, a critical element in our effectiveness—but it's definitely an investment we make in service of people who are demonstrably committed to this work. So join today! We are likely coming to your community soon, and you'll wanna be ready to roll with us!    

Biking the Cbus

 Riders in Year 1, way back in 2008.

Riders in Year 1, way back in 2008.

We've got a great little ride the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, perhaps you've heard of it—Bike the Cbus? Well, whether you have or have not, there are at least a few things you don't know about this gem of an experience. And there is so much to be excited about as we unveil new elements for this year's ride:

Big Reveal #1 NEW START and END location!!!! Each year our riders find fantastic places they did not know existed. Discovering something new on a ride is great. Taking time to explore a new place over lunch with bike friends is even better. So we've decide to move the start and end of Bike the Cbus around Columbus to do just that. We start this traveling treasure hunt with one of our biggest supporters Elevator Brewing Co. 13th Floor Taproom. The Elevator Brewing Company was founded in 1999 by a Father/Son drinking team committed to delivering quality craft beer to authentic people. Riders have the opportunity to wander around the brewery post ride to see the big tanks in action.

Lunch will again be provided as part of registration from one of multiple food truck vendors. And, yes, the taproom will be open for business post ride.

 Draft 2016 route.

Draft 2016 route.

Big Reveal #2 NEW ROUTE!!! We'll be honoring our new mayor, Mayor Andrew Ginther, by highlighting his priority neighborhoods of the Hilltop and Linden for the first time. Our new route literally takes us to places we've never been before. We'll also browse through some of the love letters (bike infrastructure) written (constructed) by the fine folks at the Department of Public Service under the leadership of our new Director, Jennifer Gallagher. Yay Engineers!

Bike the Cbus, an urban ride in the tradition of Tour de Troit and Pedal PGH, is Columbus' oldest and only organized city-wide bicycle ride. On it, we highlight several inner-ring neighborhoods on a route totaling 25–30 miles (though you don't have to go the whole distance; there are several bail points). Last year we also launched Bike the Cbus+, an extremely unique, exclusively urban metric century ride that tours Franklin County. People said it couldn't be done, that it shouldn't be done, but we did it anyway. And it was GLORIOUS!

As with all things Yay Bikes!, Bike the Cbus has been designed to create an experience of place while acclimating cyclists to riding the roads. We want you to have an unparalleled experience of this city, and we want you to be on your bike for it. We want you to ride parts of this route again and again, because you'll know it leads to places you need to go—for work or childcare or worship or whatever—and places you want to go, simply because it's a joy to be on a bike in that part of town. This ride can make a cyclist of you! 

Are you new to a ride like this? Don't be scared. The route is well marked, our rest stops explore neighborhood gems, mechanical stops are sponsored by local bike shops at multiple points throughout the route, and a couple of friendly folks "sweep" the route making sure no rider is left behind. Check out last year's photos and know you are going to have a wonderful day.

Are you an experienced rider looking for something a little different than the typical fitness ride? Bike the Cbus+ a metric century on city streets might be just the solution. This ride is led AND swept by well trained guides who know the route. They also know how to travel city streets with cars and will help you greatly expand your definition of a rideable road. Bike the Cbus+ travels in groups of 20(ish) people with the slowest group traveling at approximately 14 mph, and the quickest group traveling at 18 mph. This ride is SAG supported with 3 quick stops for nutrition, hydration, AND and indoor toilets. Yep, plumbing, sinks, air conditioning, the works.

REGISTRATION DEADLINE: Sunday, July 31, at 11:59pm, the cost to register for Bike the Cbus and Bike the Cbus+ will rise. And registrations Aug 1 and beyond DO NOT INCLUDE this beaut of a tee (though a limited number will be available for an additional fee of $15 each):

 Our 2016 tee, designed by Jeremy Slagle of Slagle Design. 

Our 2016 tee, designed by Jeremy Slagle of Slagle Design. 

It's clear what you need to do: REGISTER NOW! This ride has the potential to utterly transform how you see Columbus and your place in it. Get. On. That. Bike. And. Ride. Bike. the. Cbus. (or. Bike. the. Cbus. +) There are also ample opportunities to volunteer—many of which allow you to also enjoy the rides and all of which provide you a free tee and an exclusive opportunity to join our pre-ride route vetting ride. 

There's magic in the valet

 First out the gate: our first-shift-on-Friday-of-Comfest team of Yay Valet! volunteers.

First out the gate: our first-shift-on-Friday-of-Comfest team of Yay Valet! volunteers.

In our grant application for the Ohio EPA's Environmental Education Fund, which has helped us expand our focus from parking bikes to include educating people about bicycling for transportation, we emphasized the audience of "bike curious" event attendees. These are those who might happen by the corral and be reminded by the sight of all the bikes that they have questions about how to ride, or excuses for why they don't. And because we are there and accessible and not a bike shop that requires courage and intention to step into, they talk to us about it. We chat, we inform, we change some minds, we open people to the idea of getting back on their bikes. There is no better outreach to the cyclists of tomorrow than Yay Valet!, I'm telling you.

So that's some powerful magic right there. But there's another kind that maybe flies under the radar, the kind that makes being in the valet such a special experience. It's the life-changing and -affirming conversations among our volunteers. 

Many conversations in the valet, as you might imagine, center around bicycling. And being among the valet community helps even volunteers you'd expect to be the hardcore-est of all cyclists (whatever that means!) knock out some of their thorniest obstacles to riding. 

The large-bodied woman who thought she'd break a bike, who was scared of getting moo'd at by passing motorists: "No. No, you won't. And yes, you may, but you can call me to cry if it happens." (She started riding again.)

The woman who said to another, "yeah, but you're a hardcore cyclist and...(implied: "I'm not")": "I ride daily, but only a couple of miles at a time. You can do that, too." (She gave up shame and created access to riding more.) 

The older gentleman who would have ridden to work but didn't have a route that felt comfortable in the dark: "Oh, I've gone that way before. I use this road and then the side street that feeds into the path and then it's just a little jog and you're there. Want me to ride it with you?" (They did.)

Other conversations are not about bicycling at all.

Two very shy persons staying an hour past their shifts to discuss a favorite video game.

Two women sharing their experience of transitioning from male to female.

A high school honor student and juvenile delinquent discussing normal teenage life. 

Whatever the topic of the moment, being in the valet places you among a diverse, thoughtful group of people that includes all ages, races, gender identities, socioeconomic backgrounds, bodies, types of cyclists and more. It's good folks, working hard, talking and learning from one another. We ride more, and enjoy life more, from being together. Indeed, Yay Valet! offers a rare and unexpected—yes, even magical!—space for community in this world. Not just for cyclists. For all of us. 

Wanna volunteer with Yay Valet!? Opportunities abound!

 Fun and friendly sorts!

Fun and friendly sorts!

Here are all the fabulous people who made bike valets happen this month at Pride, Buckeye Country Superfest, Creekside Blues & Jazz Festival and Comfest (bolded names = volunteered for more than one shift):

  • Terri Evans
  • Shyra Allen
  • Napoleon Allen
  • Suzanne Hoffman Maginn
  • Charis Caldwell
  • Emily Monnig
  • Jazz Jasmin
  • Alec Fleschner (and kiddos)
  • Shirley Droney
  • Bertie Ford
  • Ken Cohen
  • Joe Powell
  • Andrea Krupman Powell
  • Clifford Beall
  • Diane Strausser
  • Kendra Kay
  • Sarah Riegel
  • Shay Holden
  • Tim Price
  • Larissa West
  • Arthur Thomas
  • Peggy Behrman
  • Meredith Joy
  • Michael Merrill
  • Matthew Wolf
  • Craig Kullik
  • Catherine Girves
  • Michael Webb
  • Jeremy Woolf
  • Bill Curtis
  • Tony Davis
  • Joy Robinson
  • Scott Shiveley
  • Thomas Babb
  • Rahel Babb
  • James Swanson
  • Bill Adams
  • Anne Bishop
  • Nate Bishop
  • Andrew Hoffer
  • Corbin Kramer
  • Mike Coakley
  • Duane McCoy
  • Alex Anderson
  • Ray George
  • Mitzy Noisette
  • Leslie Hoerig
  • Nik Olah
  • Tyler Steele
  • Andrew Hulvey
  • Alyssa Shaw
  • Bharati Jayanthi
  • Nancy Niemuth
  • Mark Ervin
  • Jim McDermott
  • Rachel Miller
  • Melissa Tewart-Darwin
  • Eddie Jayne
  • Kent Koester
  • Larry Pike
  • Brian Ludwig
  • Gretel Young
  • Ryan Vincent
  • Wendy Vincent
  • John Bannon
  • Alex Gallegos Samuels
  • Joel Spokas
  • Mike Kaizer
  • Mitzy Noisette
  • Mark Caral
  • Megan Purcell
  • Nik Olah
  • Jim Good
  • Corbin Kramer
  • Jeff Gove
  • Michael Cardi
  • Ariel Wilson
  • Alex Anderson
  • Michael Coakley
  • Duane McCoy
  • Kathleen Koechlin
  • Joe Liles
  • Tom Orchard
  • Katrina Darms
  • Ben Houck
  • Kathleen Watkins
  • Ernie Rapson
  • Bill Ferriot
  • Blanche Luczyk
  • Scott Bobbitt
  • John Cresencia
  • Maya Girves
  • Abby Rhodebeck
  • David Docktor
  • Chet Ridenour

You are my people and I love you!

 

A new sign in town

 Columbus, there's a new sign in town!

Columbus, there's a new sign in town!

 Catherine Girves, Yay Bikes! Executive Director

Catherine Girves, Yay Bikes! Executive Director

There is a phenomenon (if it has a name I don't know what it is) where the instant something changes, it's been that way forever. The long slog to achieve the change is forgotten: onward! But let's pause for a sec, and do this thing proper. We are in a moment that's very special, and I want to honor all the dedication, responsiveness, hard work and care that's brought us to this point. Specifically, to the point at which I witnessed these glorious signs on a recent Near East Side commute:

That's right! Columbus recently posted their first Bicycles May Use Full Lane signs on Long Street and Mt Vernon Avenue! Going forward, these will be installed where protocols would have called for Share the Road signs—like where new sharrows are laid; the ever-lovely Department of Public Service is updating its protocols to guide distribution (THANKS, FOLKS!). Share the Road signs are still up, but the practice of placing new ones is officially dead. Time to rejoice!

This is a M-A-S-S-I-V-E victory for local cyclists. The "Share the Road" message is loathed, for great reason. But Columbus had invested heavily in it, and it's to their credit that they listened to people who ride bikes and changed course. It's to our credit as well. The advocacy of Yay Bikes! members, delivered with kindness and respect, can be heard. Our influence can make things happen where others', employing anger and condescension, can not. 

You are among the advocates who get things done. Fund the long slog and Yay Bikes! will put your resources to good use. Staffing endless meetings. Writing original content and curating the best social media has to offer. Speaking truth to power with respect and kindness and effecting change, like we do. Until one day, when this moment, the work and Yay Bikes! itself is forgotten—because this work, and the work of our many fabulous partners, has made our streets complete. May that day come sooner than later.

Let's ride!
-Catherine

A national treasure in your midst

 Catherine with the Ohio contingent at the National Bike Summit.

Catherine with the Ohio contingent at the National Bike Summit.

Soon after my presentation at the League of American Bicyclists' National Bike Summit & Women's Forum this month, my life was in peril! I was being swarmed by bike advocates from all over the country, a la the Walking Dead! Wwwwhhhhhyyyy meeeee????? Well, surely it was not my tasty flesh but rather this: people were nutso over the engineer rides I'd presented about—in which we ride with the engineers designing our bicycle infrastructure and help them understand their work from a cyclist's perspective. Apparently, Yay Bikes! has stumbled on something unique—assuming our engineers want to do a good job and loving on them in a way that helps them do just that. Love just isn't a big part of transportation conversations these days, go figure (and more on that in a future blog post). So we became a Very Hot Topic among our national community of advocates, and life-risk aside I was grateful for that...but I had to wonder whether we are quite as Very Hot back home. Because what we do is a Very Big Deal, and Very Big Changes are coming to our Central Ohio landscape—but if you don't know about it then that's on us and I apologize. 

 Yay Bikes! joined Columbus' Public Service Department on a ride exploring the area near Georgesville Road and Sullivant Avenue

Yay Bikes! joined Columbus' Public Service Department on a ride exploring the area near Georgesville Road and Sullivant Avenue

There are fixes coming to Summit Street's protected bike lanes. Bike lanes will soon extend through Downtown Columbus on Third and Fourth. "Share the Road" signs will be swapped for "Bikes May Use Full Lane" signs beginning in a few months and continuing over the next few years. Broad Street through Bexley will receive sharrows and other traffic calming measures. And, as Yay Bikes! continues to meet with and ride with those who influence the conditions that impact our experience as cyclists, there will be much, much more to come. 

By and large this work—which you can always keep track of through our monthly activity reports—is supported through your membership dollars and donations. So I humbly request a local swarm! Support our ability to continue offering the national-caliber advocacy that delivers the infrastructure upgrades you've been waiting for. We are, after all, a Very Big Deal in some circles...not to mention pretty damn tasty. Of course.  

It's a team effort

  Catherine Girves, Yay Bikes! Executive Director

Catherine Girves, Yay Bikes! Executive Director

'From the Saddle' is a monthly note from our Executive Director. 

I'm in too many pictures. Yay Bikes! is a world-class team of staff and volunteers and members and sponsors and partners and more, but it's my mug that too often ends up published. I do attend many, many meetings, rides and events—it's my job, after all, as well as my super power (I'm really really good at meetings, in particular)—and I'm pretty shameless with the selfie (NO I do not own a stick!). But do not let that confuse you: Yay Bikes! is a glorious peacock, of which I am but one feather.   

This month, as we've reviewed the outcomes of our Ride Buddy pilot program and read about what makes a good team a la Google (spoiler alert: it's being kind to one another), I've been reflecting on the role of team at Yay Bikes!. Of course kindness and meaningful relationships are fundamental to who we are as an organization, but specifically who are the people I lean on in this work? And what about them helps makes Yay Bikes! among the very most innovative bicycle advocacy organizations in the country? Luckily, bike rides create ample head space for such considerations.

As with all who win the lottery of life, I've got far too many people to love on than there is space to do it. But here are a few top-of-mind shout outs:

  • To Meredith Joy, our wicked smart writer and program designer and founder
  • To Kathleen Watkins, who makes all the [bikes] run on time
  • To Steve Puhl, our dancing queen in the bike corral
  • To Tiffany Dixon, who has helped us (finally!) relay our untold stories
  • To Shyra Allen, who will usher Year of Yay! to even greater heights
  • To Emily Monnig, who gets what a non-profit is and how to lead it like a boss
  • To Brian Laliberte, our in-house attorney and schmooze meister
  • To Joe Powell, who builds spread sheets that make me swoon
  • To Rahel Babb, who can herd a group of cats or volunteers like nobody's business
  • To Ray George, a marketing genius and work horse we could not live without
  • To Ken Cohen, who has been there from the beginning through all our ups & downs
  • To Duane McCoy, who has a mind that identifies and cleans up bottle necks
  • To Bill Ferriot, who protects our brand like a pro
  • To Abby Rhodebeck, who steps up where needed and get shit done
  • To the entire team of people who submitted to the rigorous 2-day How We Roll ride leader training and elegantly lead those rides (Art Kadlec, Rahel Babb, Steve Puhl, Mitzy Noisette, Ashley Kay Rifkouky, Rob Hendricks, Caleb Caldwell, Cherie Snyder, Ken Cohen, Denis de Vertuil, Marie Jarden, Alex Smith, Julie Walcoff, Matt Locke, Meredith Joy, Bambo Sanusi, Jonathon Youngman, Shibnum Blewett, Catherine Girves, Will Hughen, Kathleen Koechlin, Jason Poindexter, Shyra Allen, and Randy Dull)
  • To Kathleen Koechlin and the entire Ride of Silence planning team (David Curran, John Bannon, Shyra Allen, Jeff Gove, Abby Rhodebeck, Cory Hopwood, Pat Landusky, Rahel Meyers Babb, Joel Spokas, June Krayer, and Liza Rose Farrell)
  • To this year's team of Year of Yay ride leaders/sweeps/cruise directors/wrenches/photographers and all our ride organizers (Cassie Patterson, Darrel McGrath, Aliceanne Inskeep, Grant Sumner, Shiley Droney, Ken Cohen, John Bannon, Kathleen O'Dowd, Craig Clark, Jeff Gove, Bambo Sanusi, Rahel Meyers Babb, John Cresencia, Yolande Berger, Brian Meyers, Kathleen Koechlin, Bryan Barr, Jennier Evans Cowley, David Curran, Shyra Allen, Joel Spokas, Steve Puhl, Theo White, Tiffany Dixon, and Nik Olah)
  • To the bike corral champions Sarah Mellino, Steve Puhl, Mike Coakely, Duane McCoy, Andrew Hulvey, Deanne Kirillow, Jim Good, Alex Anderson, Katie Ervin, Mark Ervin, Nancy Neimuth, Craig Clark, Jason Poindexter, Kirsten Knodt, Mairead Reddy, Steve Shaffer, Maya Girves, Michael Webb, Phil Weckesser, Ra'Sheeda Donaldson, Adam Porr, Jeremy Slagel, Wiley Jackson, and the 200+ others who volunteer in the bike corral every year.
  • To Grand Poo Bah Ray George and the Bike the Cbus planning team (Bill Ferriot, Kathleen Watkins, Brian Jackson, Cherie Snyder, Brian Meyers, Jay Cheplowitz, Rob Hendricks, Gloria Hendricks, Craig Clark, Abby Rhodebeck, Nik Olah, Brian Laliberte, John Bannon, Cole Miller, Roger Beck, Kai Landis, John Waddy and Annie Ross Womack) and the 60 other people who make this happen every year.
  • To all our donors including the 900+ members and donors who keep the lights on, and this wonderful operation running.
  • To all our friends in high (and low) places who make sure we are invited into conversations about creating safe streets

I love you all. Thanks for being on our Yay Bikes! team. We are making magic happen and I am grateful.

Getting to commitment

 Catherine Girves, Yay Bikes! Executive Director

Catherine Girves, Yay Bikes! Executive Director

'From the Saddle' is a monthly note from our Executive Director. 

There was a script I used to deliver to dubious fair-weather cyclists and bike curious loved ones, as recently as last month, in which I'd talk about that first mile. For me, that first mile was the worst. I whined to myself it was too hot, too cold, too wet, or I was too late. If I could just manage to get my butt on the bike and get through that, I could get myself to the point of actually enjoying the rest. But that "if" was a force! Every day presented a new opportunity to struggle over whether to ride, with lots of excuses for why not to weighed against "yeah, but as the Executive Director of a BIKE ORGANIZATION...". It was exhausting.

But I am here today to tell you that at long last, after 12 years of riding my bike for transportation, my script has flipped. Utterly, absolutely, totally. The "if factor" is resolved; my ambivalence has evaporated. I'm enjoying EVERY mile on my bike.

 The crummy Key West rental bike that helped awaken me to change.

The crummy Key West rental bike that helped awaken me to change.

I realized something had shifted with some shock upon my return from a Key West vacation. While there I rode every day, on a ridiculous single speed rental bike that fit terribly and was maintained even worse. Some days I wanted to ride and others I rode because I made a goal to ride every day this year. So ride I did, up and down the island on that hot mess. And somehow, upon my return to Ohio and my perfectly-crafted-for-me bike, things were different. But why?? Was it the relief of homecoming after riding that broken alien steed for some 80 miles? Maybe.

But I'm guessing that my new and unexpected love of riding began not with Key West but with a commitment I made at the beginning of 2016—that I was going to ride every single day this year, no matter what. Declarations like that are very powerful, I'm learning anew in my bike life. Less than one month in and there is no more "if". There's only riding for me, from here on out. How about you? 

Join me—commit today!

Happy February! 
—Catherine

Biking as transformation

 Catherine Girves, Yay Bikes! Executive Director

Catherine Girves, Yay Bikes! Executive Director

'From the Saddle' is a monthly note from our Executive Director. 

You may be surprised to know that I don't care whether you ride a bike. In fact, no one at Yay Bikes! really cares whether you ride a bike or don't ride a bike. While most of us like to ride bikes, and help other people like to ride bikes too, our organization doesn't exist just to get people to ride bikes. I know, I know: part of our mission is to get people to ride bikes! So—huh?!?!

See I happen to think 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. I think it's an entirely unique experience in that regard, different from, say, the experience most of us have playing chess. And because it can offer us such a sense of connectedness in an increasingly disconnected world, I truly believe, because I've experienced it myself and witnessed it in countless others, that bicycling transforms lives. 

So no, Yay Bikes! does not exist because we think people should ride bikes, as if we were instigating an arbitrary, moralistic finger wag for the lapses of modern (wo)man. Yay Bikes! exists because we know that bicycling provides access to transformation.

So yes, Yay Bikes! does want you to ride a bike! But if you have another access to connection and transformation, go for it. Regardless of your orientation to actually getting on a bike and riding it, I hope you'll support the type of transformation we're up to. Because I tell you with certainty that we at Yay Bikes! are creating a beautiful world for all of us, cyclist or not: from the experience of "badassery" in a woman who overcomes fear to ride roads, to the safe streets that allow a grandpa to take his time in a crosswalk, to the quiet traffic that encourages a family to play on their front lawn.

This work matters.

Read our stories.

Join us.

Happy January!
—Catherine