Takin' our show on the road thru Ohio

We're excited to announce that we are partnering with Ohio Department of Transportation to take our show on the road! This summer and fall we'll be offering professional development rides—similar to the "engineer rides" we piloted in Columbus last year—to transportation professionals and others who influence the experience of people biking for transportation throughout Ohio. 

Our professional development rides are designed to provide opportunities to experience a community's current street infrastructure by bike to better understand how to: 1) engineer and evaluate bicycle-related infrastructure; 2) inform and educate all road users; 3) enforce laws governing behaviors that lead to conflicts between people on bikes and other road users; and 4) encourage active transportation. Previous participants have reported increased understanding of why cyclists make the choices they do and understanding what makes for an effective bicycle accommodation. In their own words:

“I learned there is a huge difference between a well designed bike lane or facility and one that is just thrown in last minute to a project to make it a complete street.”
“I got a feel for the perspective of a bicycle rider. I also learned some things about general bicycling practices that are contrary to what I’d previously thought (lane positioning, platooning at traffic signals, etc.). These are things that will aid me as I’m working on different issues pertaining to bicycling.”
“I learned quite a bit about what looks good on paper may not be the right solution in real life.”
“If I want to expand my engineering judgment, I need to experience it. And it was a lot different than I thought. Yay Bikes! gave our team a whole new perspective. As engineers, we’re focused on making it work, but Yay Bikes! gave us feedback from a customer perspective.”

Professional development rides are 3 hour experiences customized for each community to feature as many types of infrastructure as possible within approximately
8–10 miles. They roll at a casual pace accessible to most, and include several stops to discuss the experience of riding different streets, as well as traffic law and how it pertains to best bicycling practices. Ride leaders are extensively trained transportation cyclists and educators with deep respect for participants' professional expertise. 

 If you are interested in scheduling a ride for your team, contact Catherine

With a little help from a friend: Ride Buddy program outcomes

Ride Buddies was a pilot program to help residents and employees in Downtown Columbus replace their work-related car trips with bike trips—and become hardcore badasses in the process.

Ride Buddies was a pilot program to help residents and employees in Downtown Columbus replace their work-related car trips with bike trips—and become hardcore badasses in the process.

I’m so glad I had the option to have this experience … I know it’s something a lot of people desire but don’t have the option to do. Surely, they are missing out ...

In summer 2015, the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) contracted with Yay Bikes! to implement a Downtown Modal Shift Pilot Program aimed at helping downtown-area residents and employees replace work-related car trips with bicycle trips. The program, which became known as "Ride Buddies",  offered our targeted employers information sessions, custom promotional content and topical online content to help them promote bicycling. It offered custom rides—either a to/from work commute, CoGo tour or professional development experience—to any individual or small group exploring the possibility of bike commuting. These featured the following:

  • An expert Ride Buddy to lead the ride, impart road rules and answer questions
  • At least one route planned specifically by the Ride Buddy, based on a participant's origination/destination and vice versa, as well as their concerns, goals and preferences 
  • Information about how to link bike riding with other modes to make an active commute more manageable (e.g., Park & Pedal locations and COTA buses)
  • Advice regarding equipment and gear, and other bike commuting basics
  • Follow up communications with resources relevant to participants' stated interests

In total, 76 people took advantage of the Ride Buddies program. During the 2-month pilot, we conducted 44 rides—30 with individuals and 14 with small groups. Of those:

  • 17 people rode ‘real’ and 7 rode practice commutes to and/or from work
  • 19 people rode from work to a lunch or meeting site
  • 23 people had professional development experiences organized by a supervisor
  • 10 people rode non-work trips (e.g., to explore a neighborhood or shop for a bike)
A crew from Columbus State Community College explore their Near East Side neighborhood! 

A crew from Columbus State Community College explore their Near East Side neighborhood! 

It was altogether 1000 times better than I thought it would be.
I conquered a fear and feel more comfortable.

The Ride Buddies pilot was rigorously evaluated using the following tools:

  • Employer baseline survey—We sent an extensive pre-intervention survey about bike commuting attitudes and habits to employees of 10 Downtown-area employers, and received a statistically valid responses from each. Our post-intervention survey was abandoned when it became clear our impact would be less tied to specific employers than expected. 
  • Employer inventories—We conducted four interviews with Downtown-area employers regarding their support for bicycle commuting, and completed reports for each. Two employers were inspired by this process to apply for League of American Bicyclists’ Bicycle Friendly Business program. One employer received that recognition and the other's application is pending.
  • Pre-ride surveys: 88.2% of riders completed a survey about their experience riding a bicycle for transportation as part of their online ride registration process.
  • Immediate post-ride surveys: 80.3% of riders completed a survey about their experience upon following a link in an email sent shortly following their ride.
  • 6-week post-ride follow up surveys: 57.9% of riders completed a survey about their post-ride behavior upon following a link in an email sent several weeks following their ride. 
Riding with a Buddy can be what makes all the difference.

Riding with a Buddy can be what makes all the difference.

I’ve been wanting to start riding, but have been nervous about not knowing what the hell I’m doing. I’m very grateful for this opportunity!

Here's what we learned about the motivations of those who participated in our Ride Buddies program:

  • People want to ride but feel scared and confused. 
    When asked about the barriers preventing registrants from riding a bicycle for work-related trips, 50.8% of registrants cited safety concerns and 28.8% cited not knowing how to ride in traffic.
  • A free Ride Buddy can be the catalyst that helps people make a change.
    When asked why they chose this moment to learn more about riding a bicycle for work-related trips, 59.3% of registrants said because they were offered a free Ride Buddy to help them take it on (followed distantly by 27.1% who said they’d recently committed themselves to a lifestyle overhaul).
  • Relationships, not mass media, generated participation; workplace champions are critical allies in this work. 
    Fully 63.2% of participants were invited by a co-worker, while 25.0% were invited by someone they knew from Yay Bikes!
A workplace champion at Ohio Board of Regents scheduled several rides for coworkers, and caused a significant shift in office culture as a result.

A workplace champion at Ohio Board of Regents scheduled several rides for coworkers, and caused a significant shift in office culture as a result.

Commuting is a habit that I do easily by bike. Errands, however, I do not habitually do by bike and I realize there are some I can conveniently accomplish by pedaling.

Here's what we learned about Ride Buddies' impact on mode shift:

  • A Ride Buddies experience helps people replace car trips with bike trips.  
    Immediately post-ride, a majority of participants (68.9%) said they were "Very likely" to repeat their ride or a similar journey on their own. More than half of those who responded to the six-week followup survey (52.3%) actually had replaced at least one car trip with a bike trip—and, of those, 96% replaced more than one. Nearly everyone who replaced a car trip with a bike trip (91.3%) felt "Completely!" or almost completely prepared for what they encountered. 
Riding to several bike shops helped one participant overcome her two major hurdles to riding: not knowing the road rules and not having a bike!

Riding to several bike shops helped one participant overcome her two major hurdles to riding: not knowing the road rules and not having a bike!

Being confident about taking space in the lane has made me feel safer than I did when I rode way over on the right.

Here's what we learned about Ride Buddies' impact on participants' bicycling knowledge and practice: 

  • The Ride Buddies experience significantly changes how participants ride. 
    Six weeks post-ride, 82.0% of participants said Ride Buddies had "Completely!" or almost completely influenced how they rode a bike, with the key changes being that they don't ride as far to the right (68.2%) and they are more likely to take the lane than before (61.4%).
  • The Ride Buddies experience significantly improves a key indicator of participants' bike knowledge.
    When asked to say whether the statement "Bicyclists can always choose to ride in the center of a lane, regardless of traffic conditions.” is true or false, 79.5% of Ride Buddy participants correctly said true, as opposed to 36.1% of the non-participants from our employer baseline survey. 
Bricker and Eckler employees rode in from the new Park & Pedal location at Dodge Park. 

Bricker and Eckler employees rode in from the new Park & Pedal location at Dodge Park. 

The following weeks people approached me to say that they saw me riding and were impressed by my confidence on the road, and that they would like to experience the same thing. Their comments opened the door to me talking to them about bike riding and its advantages.

Here's what we learned about Ride Buddies' viral impact:

  • The impact of a Ride Buddies experience extends far beyond participants. 
    Almost all Ride Buddy participants (95.5%) shared what they learned with others—on average each shared with 3–5 others! Specifically, they shared about proper lane positioning (69.0%), how the experience was different than expected (66.7%), how it made them feel (61.9%) and bicycle traffic law (59.5%). 
COTA and Ride Buddies: a Dream Team if we ever saw one!

COTA and Ride Buddies: a Dream Team if we ever saw one!

So what's the bottom line here? We think it's that significant mode shift can occur via meaningful interactions lasting just two hours or less. With the key here being "meaningful interactions"! It's not enough to throw up a billboard or hand out brochures. If we want to create real change in how people get from here to there, it will require a sufficient investment in people that they feel supported in adopting a new, more active way of life. Because it's hard to undertake all that much change all by yourself, and sometimes you just need a little help from a friend (or, uh, make that a Buddy! ;)!

The Ride Buddy program is not currently being offered; we are seeking funding to offer it in the future, and will promote that opportunity when it becomes available.

Contact Meredith to request additional data from this pilot. 

YB! leads professional development ride with ODOT safety team

ODOT ride
ODOT ride

On July 21, 2015, Yay Bikes! ride leaders Catherine Girves and Meredith Joy, along with trusty sweeps Steve Puhl Jr and Julie Walcoff, led a group of 8 Ohio Department of Transportation professionals on a tour of bicycle facilities on Columbus' South and East sides. This group represented the Safety Team, aka the folks determining which safety projects -- including bicycle infrastructure projects -- throughout the state will receive funding. Most of them had ridden trails but not roads, and a couple hadn't ridden a bike since childhood, so this ride proved the first urban riding experience for our group.


Split into 2 groups of 4, the cyclists rode a challenging 10-mile (or 12-mile, if they were in the accidental wrong-way group!) route beginning at the Grange Audubon Center and hitting the following streets: Front, Main, Grant, Town, Parsons, Livingston, Ohio and Champion, Oak, Washington, Gay, Broad, 3rd, Fulton, High and Whittier. Along the way, they got to experience sharrows, bike lanes to nowhere, bike lanes in door zones, unmarked narrow lanes, freeway on- and off-ramps, multi-lane one-ways and more. As well as the overwhelming heat of the day and, of course, the typical sights, smells & sounds that make bicycling so damn lovely. Everyone was heroic! Everyone was also very very hungry when we sat down to share our delicious post-ride meal at El Arepazo.

Here's some of our early feedback from the ride:

What was your favorite part of the ride?

Trying the different bicycle treatments like the sharrows, the bike lanes and bike boulevard to see how each performed.

...being able to see the integration between the designs on paper, the cyclist themselves, and the driver interaction and how it all comes together. There are definitely eye opening things when riding out on the streets first hand and would recommend all designers/operations people to experience it first hand to have that background knowledge.

Stopping periodically to discuss various aspects of the ride. It helped solidify or reinforce important design and riding concepts in my mind.

What did you learn?

I learned there is a huge difference between a good designed bike lane or facility and one that is just thrown in last minute to a project to make it a complete street ... The narrow bike lanes, especially next to parked cars, was a huge eye opener. Also, understanding why the rider must own the lane for their safety was an eye opener on the City streets. Most of my bike riding experience has come on the bike trails or residential streets.

Was there anything different than what you expected?

 I felt way more comfortable riding through downtown and the various other streets than I thought that I would.

It was a lot less scary than I thought it would be.

I didn't expect to feel so comfortable riding downtown streets. I think it helped that we rode as a group with a calm, experienced ride leader.

We at Yay Bikes! are honored to have hosted such a thoughtful group of professionals on this ride, and look forward to more such rides with professionals throughout the state. Thanks to ODOT (and let's not forget MORPC!) for investing in these training opportunities.

Yay Bikes! announces new downtown-area Ride Buddy program

bike buddies
bike buddies

Ride Buddies Cassie & Catherine arrive to their final destination — OSU's Center for Folklore Studies! Make this the year your commute becomes active! Now through June 30, all downtown-area workers and residents have a FREE opportunity to practice riding to and from work by bicycle, with extensive support from the certified cycling experts at Yay Bikes!.

Last week, MORPC selected Yay Bikes! as the contractor for their Downtown Modal Shift Pilot Program, decisively investing in our work to encourage more trips by bicycle. And the mode shift program we've developed is—go figure—the perfect expression of ourtheory of change! We're excited for the opportunity to offer extremely targeted programming that engenders meaningful change in the lives of downtown-area workers and residents.

For the entire month of June 2015, Yay Bikes! will offer ANYONE living or working in Downtown Columbus a personal Ride Buddy that escorts them and/or a small group of colleagues by bicycle on work-related trips, whether that be to/from work, to/from lunch or to/from other frequent destinations. Fully customized rides might be:

Work commutes: Over custom rides before or after work, we will ride with employees of downtown area businesses on their first bicycle commutes, whether directly from/to their homes or from/to a designated Park & Pedal location.

CoGo rides: Over lunch hour rides, we will familiarize employees with the CoGo Bike Share system and escort them to destinations downtown, e.g. their favorite lunch spots or frequent meeting sites.

Professional development rides: Over workday rides, we will showcase sites specific to employees’ profession (e.g., bicycle infrastructure for public service employees or neighborhood rides for charitable foundation staff) that engage them in a deeper understanding of their work.

Social / team-building rides: Over rides following work, we will offer unique educational experiences to groups of employees who want to explore downtown destinations and/or a particular theme by bike (e.g., touring the facilities offered by several bike friendly businesses).

Additionally, the program is open to downtown-area employers who want a more robust experience extended to all their employees—with information sessions, corporate communications and ride experiences intentionally designed as an expression of their mission and culture. Organizations that have already signed on are: Ulmer & Berne, Bricker & Eckler, Grange Insurance, Capital Crossroads SID, City of Columbus Department of Public Service, City of Bexley, Nationwide Insurance, State Auto, Huntington, MORPC and COTA. Space is available for 3 additional organizations of any size ready to roll with a fast-paced onslaught of rides, communications and data collection during the month of June.

Contact usto schedule a ride that works for you, or to become a participating organization! It is really, truly, for seriouslyjust that simple.

Yay Bikes! returns to OSU!

OSU First Year Peer Leaders get a taste of How We Roll on their orientation ride in June
OSU First Year Peer Leaders get a taste of How We Roll on their orientation ride in June

We are excited to announce that this fall, in conjunction with the launch of bike share on campus, Yay Bikes! will once again provide bicycle safety education to members of the OSU community. We will be delivering information sessions on bicycle commuting, an educational poster and our traditional How We Roll rides to both the academic and the medical center's students, faculty and staff. The academic audience will be introduced to riding the streets from campus to downtown, taking in the sites of the city, while those affiliated with the medical center will be taught to use bike share for rides between the various medical buildings.

This summer, we began delivering our part of the program with an info session and 8 How We Roll rides for 34 OSU First Year Peer students. When we asked them to evaluate their experience, this is what we heard:

What was your favorite part of the ride? Responses to this question overwhelmingly referenced the beauty of Columbus and how much students enjoyed getting to go downtown. In their own words:

Seeing how close the city is

Seeing all of Columbus in a different way

Stopping in downtown, so beautiful!

Exploring the city of Columbus w/friends

Getting to go downtown

I liked going downtown and seeing all the cool stuff to do

Was there anything different than what you expected? Responses to this question mostly referenced the fact that participants found riding on the street from campus to downtown easier and more pleasant than expected. In their own words:

It was easier than I thought

Traffic/drivers friendly, didn’t expect that

I thought I would be more tired

It was a lot easier than expected

Cars aren’t as mean as I expected

Less scary than I thought

It wasn’t as hard/nerve racking as I thought it’d be

Biking on the road is way easier than I expected.

What did you learn? Responses to this question overwhelmingly had to do with learning how to ride safely on the roads, with some participants sharing an expanded sense of how bikeable Columbus is. In their own words:

Bikes are just like cars

I learned that bicycling can be a safe, fun alternative to driving

How to properly have my place on the road

I learned turn signals, bike laws and not to ride on sidewalks

To be okay with riding in the middle and bike safety

How many places downtown are bike accessible

A lot about safety and which lane to ride in

To not stay in the door zone

Bikes follow the same laws as cars

Meanwhile, fully 26.5% of participants said they'd be "Very Likely" to repeat this journey on their own, and/or attempt others that are similar (with another 56% saying they were "Somewhat Likely" to do so!).

So kudos to OSU for including this essential educational component in their bike share roll out plans! Clearly we should all be watching out for more and better bicycling from the OSU area come this fall, from these First Year Peer ambassadors and everyone they touch, plus all the others we reach with our message and our unique How We Roll experience.

To participate! Rides and information sessions will be offered at least through fall semester, according to demand. If you are a member of the OSU community and would like to schedule a learning experience for your group, contact Meredith.

Yay Bikes! augments annual "Put a Lid on It" program with safety training

[embed][/embed] In this video featuring ODOT Director Jerry Wray's helmet program endorsement, Catherine Girves and Yay Bikes! member Talon Hendricks model how to fit a helmet. Regarding helmets, Talon says: "It's safe. It helps you because if you're not wearing a helmet, this part of your head is not covered with a shell so you hit your head".

On April 9, 2015, Yay Bikes! joined the Ohio Department of Transportation and the American Academy of Pediatrics, Ohio Chapter to train the ~40 youth program coordinators from across the state who had received grants of free helmets to distribute within their communities. The training covered basic parking lot drills the coordinators could use to help kids practice their bike handling skills, and a presentation identifying three primary causes of kids' bicycle crashes.

We appreciate ODOT for funding our participation in this exciting project.

"The Risks of Riding Right"

ODOT funded and Yay Bikes! developed this original safety video for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Ohio Chapter's annual "Put a Lid on It" campaign, in association with their Bicycle Helmet Safety Awareness Week (May 2–10, 2015). It  was used to train youth programming coordinators statewide who had received a grant of free helmets from the Ohio AAP Foundation about insidious cycling safety risks.

To our knowledge, this is the only bicycle safety video that captures near-crashes from both the motorist's and the cyclist's point of view. Pay particular attention to how limited the motorist's field of vision is!

(Bonus points to anyone who can tell us where the video's catch phrase comes from!)

Earn a Bike 3.0 @ Great Western Academy

DSC04064 (1)
DSC04064 (1)


With generous funding from the Coca Cola Foundation through the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's Ohio regional office, this spring we're partnering with Imagine Schools Great Western Academy to deliver our third round of our Earn a Bike programming to 20 youth. During the program, kids will participate in 8 hours of mechanical education and 8 hours of safe cycling education, plus complete a bicycle-related community service project. If they complete the program, they'll take home a new bike, plus a helmet, lock and other accessories.

Final report from 2014:

Yay Bikes! and Franklinton Cycle Works partnered with Gladden Community House on the city’s West Side to offer their youth a 2-week Earn a Bike program. During the program’s first week, participants learned basic bicycle mechanics and maintenance over 8 hours at Franklinton Cycle Works; in the second week they rode for 8 hours with Yay Bikes! to learn trail and road safety. On the final day of the program they shared what they’d learned with their peers by staffing a bike rodeo at Avondale Middle School. Ten children aged 8–14 began the program and 9 (3 girls and 6 boys) completed it to earn their bicycles and accessories. 

Week 1: Bicycle Mechanics

The mechanical portion of the program was designed to empower students to maintain their own bicycles and handle basic fixes, and to help them effectively communicate more complicated issues to bike mechanics as necessary. On the program’s first day, students learned how wheels and tires work, and the appropriate vocabulary for each component. They also had hands-on experience changing both a front and rear tire and patching an inner tube. The second day featured a discussion and demonstration of a bicycle’s braking system, with hands-on experience adjusting brakes. On the third day, the group learned about a bicycle’s drivetrain and components, then evaluated and cleaned chains and adjusted derailleurs. On the final day, students did a thorough safety check of their own new bicycle.

Week 2: Cycling Safety

The safety education portion of the program was designed to empower students to access key local destinations using trails and roads by riding their bicycles responsibly, in visible and predictable fashion. The first two days were spent fitting the kids for helmets (and letting them decorate them with stickers — a huge success), riding low-traffic neighborhood roads to let the kids show off where they lived and reinforcing appropriate bicycling and group riding behavior. A spill by one of the kids even allowed for a teachable moment about the importance of wearing a helmet! As their confidence levels increased and behavior stabilized, instructors led the kids to nearby destinations of interest — including COSI, the Audubon Center and Whittier Peninsula, Dodge Park, Bicentennial Park, Franklinton Community Gardens and Franklinton Library — where they experienced guided tours, summer fun and service opportunities. Each kid had the opportunity to lead the group, with an instructor’s support. By the end of the week, kids were consistently maintaining a straight line, signaling to turn and checking behind them to merge.

Grand Finale: Bike Olympics

The service component of the program was designed to provide students an outlet for sharing what they learned with peers and giving back to the community in a bicycle-specific way. For their service day, students hosted a “Bike Olympics” for fellow neighborhood kids at Avondale Middle School. They recruited kids to come; set up activities, including several races and relays; and manned a bike repair stand. Everyone had a great time!

Cyclist education in 2014


When you support Yay Bikes!  >> cyclist education happens!
10 Earn a Bike youth
15 League Cycling Instructors
27 Pelotonia riders
35 Art Ride cyclists

Through some exciting new partnerships this year, Yay Bikes! taught people of all ages to safely ride city streets. We piloted a training program with Pelotonia, rode with Gladden House youth on an Earn a Bike program, supported several Columbus Public Health art rides and trained City of Columbus and State of Ohio employees to be League Cycling Instructors. Plus, Akron's How We Roll program enrolled dozens of community members in its downtown-area rides. Please consider an end-of-year gift to help Yay Bikes! expand our impact through cyclist education and other programming next year. 

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.   

~ From all of us at Yay Bikes! ~