From the saddle

From the seat of my car

Major arterial: better than expected!

Major arterial: better than expected!

As you might imagine, in my line of work there are many rides to be led, and many routes to be created. Because I'm often planning routes for rides in places I don’t know well, I will typically draft them first in Google Maps, then drive them upon arrival to town. As I'm driving, the lines on my map become really real, and I sometimes panic: "Holy crap!", I say to myself, "We're all gonna die if I take us on this street!" Through my windshield, roads can look terrifying and I become one big NOPE. Yes, even me, even after all the riding I've done and the riding I've taught others to do. I still get scared. But I have a policy that I won't take people on streets I haven't been willing to ride on my own—during rush hour, if possible—so I strap on my helmet and set off to ride the route as planned.

I surely would NEVER have seen this from my car. 

I surely would NEVER have seen this from my car. 

I am happy to report that in almost in every single instance, when I actually ride the streets I'd thought would lead to certain death, it becomes “Oh! This is much different than I thought it’d be!” Motorists are respectful, passing slowly and with care, and I am able to notice all the pleasant things I never could while driving. Murals. Birdsong. Microclimates. Aromas (bakeries, laundry, flowers...). Every time I ride, I am reminded why I ride—because, quite simply, it's lovely to ride. But it's not just me, someone generally at ease riding on the road, who experiences this. On their evaluations, the vast majority of our ride participants suggest that riding is a joyful experience that is much, much different than they had imagined:

“I was pleasantly surprised at how much motorists were cooperating with us. Also, we rode streets that I would have never ridden on because they look too ‘busy’.”

“I relearned the joy of riding a bike with the wind in my face.”

“It’s a lot less scary than I thought it would be.”
— Anonymous ride participants
A Year of Yay! ride with kiddos on Morse Rd. Photo: Ray George

A Year of Yay! ride with kiddos on Morse Rd. Photo: Ray George

I'm grateful for my route planning ritual, and the fear it sometimes invokes in me. It's a good reminder that what seems so from the seat of a car can be quite different from how it actually is from the seat of a bike. And it's a good reminder of why it can be so tricky to get people to understand the joy that awaits them on the other side of their car windshield. Especially when we haven't ridden for a while, it's tempting to view riding a bicycle in traffic as extraordinarily dangerous; we can't even fathom doing it. Then layer on the fact that people tend to overestimate how long it takes to ride a bike somewhere, and fears of physical inadequacy, and I can see why people psych themselves out. That's why we at Yay Bikes! insist that most of our education happens on-road. Sometimes all it takes is taking a chance on getting out there, with some support if possible, and discovering for yourself the unexpected experience of riding a bike—yes, even in traffic. 

Our Year of Yay! rides are a great way to dip a toe in and get some practice riding roads. Please, join me—rides roll on the second Saturday of each month! You'll get plenty of support and it may just change the way you travel, forever.  

Wardrobe changes

Heidi Coulter, Yay Bikes! Director of Community Outreach

Heidi Coulter, Yay Bikes! Director of Community Outreach

A recent study out of England evaluated whether a cyclist's appearance made any difference in how they were treated by passing motorists. So during Bike to Work Week, I decided to replicate that experiment, USA-style, to see if wearing different clothes affected how drivers treated me. I have an easy, low-stress, 3.5-mile bike commute to work. It consists of mostly residential streets with a few stoplights across busy roads, a couple of heads-up places and a lovely protected bike lane. Every day I rode the same route, the same bike and in the same manner. The only thing that changed each day was my wardrobe—or, in one case, my costume. Here's how it went down: 

Day 1: Hi Vis

I saw a yellow finch, three white dogs being walked and one brown poodle noodling around on the ground scratching his back. None were fazed by my neon fashion. I rolled up to another commuter while waiting to cross a busy street. He appeared to be going to work, reminded me of a professor. He was nicely dressed in an outdoorsy way, button down shirt tucked in with a belt, canvas hiking pants with Velcro straps holding the fabric of his pants away from the chain, backpack with 2 metal water bottles and a rack that was empty. He glanced over at me in all my day glow glory and rolled a half wheel in front of me. Then he quickly made a dicey cross in front a car that was moving way over the speed limit. Maybe I’m projecting here but it was as if he was embarrassed to be seen next to a hi-vis Rainbow Bright. Other than my interaction with the “professor” this commute was no different than most. Most fellow commuters tend to be very friendly.  Drivers behaved and gave me plenty of room.

Sprite with blinking lights. 

Sprite with blinking lights. 

You have to admit the resemblance is uncanny!

You have to admit the resemblance is uncanny!

Day 2: Casual – Cut-off jeans and t-shirt

There were only a few things worth mentioning about this day, and none had to do with how I was treated by motorists. The first thing was it was a gorgeous morning with orange poppies and purple irises waving hello with a clear blue sky. Secondly, cutoff jeans shorts are seriously uncomfortable on a bike. In the evening I got caught in a torrential rainstorm, complete with tornado sirens while riding through downtown Columbus for the Yay Bikes! event Ride the Elevator. We had to cut our ride short but it was a ride none of us will ever forget. It was like riding through a waterfall and down a river for about a mile. Jean shorts take on an enormous amount of water and tend to grow as few sizes when soaked. For the second day in a row, I was treated with respect and was given plenty of room when cars passed.

Nice excuse to dress like this at work!

Nice excuse to dress like this at work!

Yep, that was fun!

Yep, that was fun!

Notice the high tech rain gear.

Notice the high tech rain gear.

Day 3: Team Kit – so pro

I felt really conflicted this day. I’m no stranger to wearing a team kit. I’m on the Paradise Garage Racing Team and have been racing mountain bikes for over 16 years. What made this absurd was my glasses, shoes, helmet and kit cost 10x what I paid for my used bike. My carbon-soled shoes with cleats on the wet plastic pedals made for a tricky ride in the rain; my feet kept slipping off the pedals. My padded bibs, super soft jersey and rain resistant jacket kept me comfortable and dry. No one seemed to notice how ridiculous my outfit was in relation to my bike. My guess is most people don’t know the difference between a high-end bike and a beater. Again, everyone treated me with care when passing. Today was the first day no one waved at me. I felt slightly invisible, and since I was a bit self-conscious that was just fine by me. Was I off-putting in my so pro look or was it just the rain?

No time for smiles, I've got watts to make!

No time for smiles, I've got watts to make!

Pro power stance 

Pro power stance 

Day 4: Dress Up

This is the day that people were the most friendly. Two guys said hi and I got a few nods from the bus stop. Oddly enough, the hard soles of my heels made for a comfortable ride. They had a similar feel to my hard racing shoes. The heel acted as a hook and my feet never slipped off of the pedals.  Fun commuting tip for anyone that wears a dress or skirt: tuck a little bit in one of the leg bands of your shorts and no matter the amount of wind your dress or skirt won’t go flying up and over your head!  Cars treated me with the same respect and care as they did all week.

Scabs on my knees gave me away.

Scabs on my knees gave me away.

Day 5: Crazy town — I’m a green bunny

Somehow this seemed like a great idea until the morning of my commute. The realization that I was going to ride downtown and meet a bunch of fellow cyclists on the steps of Columbus City Hall in a green bunny suit made me want to pull the blankets over my head and stay in bed. This wasn’t the first time I have ridden a bike in this costume. I actually did an entire winter mountain bike series racing a borrowed fat bike in this fabulous furry $9 bunny suit. The main difference is I knew most of the people at the race series, while I hadn't met most of the city officials or business leaders who would be at the Bike to Work Week event.  Clearly, I hadn’t thought this all the way through. I quickly made my way through my neighborhood hoping that none of my neighbors would see me. I high-tailed it (so to speak!) along my regular route to work and then continued all the way downtown to the steps of City Hall. My entire ride was a bit unexpected. No waves, no honks, no nods, no greetings of any sort. I even rode by two bus stops full of middle school students and no one said a word. Other than a construction worker in the Short North stopping his jackhammer and doing a double take there was nothing remarkable about this ride.  Nothing to see here, keep it weird Columbus!

Nothing like a first impression!

Nothing like a first impression!

Some bunny won!

Some bunny won!

Crazy that all that mud washed out.

Crazy that all that mud washed out.

Obviously this wasn’t a hardcore scientific experiment, just my own observations from my easy commute. But no matter what I wore, I wasn’t treated all that much differently. The entire week was great. No one honked at me, there were no close passes or white knuckle moments. I followed all traffic laws and, as the law allows, rode as far right as practicable—which sometimes meant riding where the passenger car tire goes or taking the lane. I never hugged the curb, didn't dart in and out of parked cars or ride in the door zone. I made sure I was predictable and visible at all times. My take from the week was it didn't matter what I wore what mattered is how I rode. The bottom line is—wear whatever you want! Just ride!

I encourage you all to try this for a week. It's seriously a hoot! Don't have a critter costume? No worries, just wear something a bit outrageous on the fifth day. You just might be surprised what happens! Or, you know, maybe not. Either way, you'll have biked a bunch and be a better person for it. 

Happy trails,

Your friend, Heidi

Columbus to Qatar

Camel!

Camel!

Through a rather bizarre series of events (ask me about it sometime), I was recently invited to speak at Qatar University (at the pleasure of the Princess, no less) about creating communities that welcome bikes for transportation. I'd heard that "no one bikes in Doha", so of course I was curious to discover and document the dystopian hellscape that would cause this to be the case. 

I know, it's awful, can you even believe it?!

I know, it's awful, can you even believe it?!

Spoiler alert: people DO ride bikes in Doha, just as people ride bikes basically everywhere in the world. And I found it quite lovely to get around there on a bike. But as ubiquitous as bicycling itself, are the many reasons why people believe people aren't bicycling: "The weather is too extreme." "The infrastructure doesn't support riding." "It's too dangerous for women to ride." Sound familiar? 

People riding to the places they need to travel. (They were bemused at my question about whether they ride like this even in summer).

People riding to the places they need to travel. (They were bemused at my question about whether they ride like this even in summer).

A person navigating Education City by bike.

A person navigating Education City by bike.

To be sure, it can get HOT in Qatar—108 degree average temps in July, yikes! (just like it can get COLD in Ohio—0-degree temps during much of January, yikes!). There isn't much bicycle infrastructure in Doha (just like there are many parts of Central Ohio without bicycle infrastructure). There can be personal safety concerns for cyclists in Doha, particularly among historically marginalized populations (just like...you got it, right here in Ohio!). And yet, people DO ride for transportation, facing current conditions, both here and there, and everywhere, whether for the joy of it or the necessity. In Qatar as in Columbus, there is a disconnect between perception and reality when it comes to who is riding, how much and where. As much as things are different, mostly they are the same.

Bicycles, assemble!

Bicycles, assemble!

My Doha adventure reinforced to me how universal are perceptions of bicycling barriers, and how universally will people ride in spite of the real and perceived barriers they face. But regardless whether we're in Doha or Columbus, the risk is the same—when we fail to see the people around us who are riding, it makes it easier not to invest in improving their ride experience. So take a closer look to see what evidence of cycling is around you, even in environments that seem hostile. It will be there. And disrupt any argument along the lines of "people don't ride here because..."—it's not true, guaranteed. People are riding everywhere, no matter what, and it's important that they're seen!

"Real" cyclists

Do I look like a cyclist to you?

Do I look like a cyclist to you?

Every few weeks I find myself in conversation with someone (let's be real—it's typically a woman) who shares their experience of bicycling and then demurs: "but I'm not a real cyclist" or "but I'm not super hardcore (implication: like you) or anything". And I'm dumbfounded, because they've just told me how they're now riding to work at least once a week, or they've figured out riding in freezing temperatures, or they're using their bike for some trips to the grocery store, or they're riding down the busiest street in the community. But it's not enough. It doesn't count. It doesn't make them a "real cyclist".

Now I know that "cyclist" is a loaded label, tied to an identity most people aren't willing to claim for themselves. Of 1,967 respondents of two recent surveys we administered, only 5.2% said they considered themselves to be cyclists, while 41.8% said they are "someone who rides a bike from time to time, but is not really a cyclist". And to some extent that's the bad rap cyclists have for being scofflaws or elitist or rude, sure. But also, what comes immediately to mind when I say the word "cyclist"? How about what not-coincidentally comes up first on a Google image search:

Definitely  a cyclist. 

Definitely a cyclist. 

Yep. Cyclists. 

Yep. Cyclists. 

Beautiful, fit, white, young, male, racer, hipster. THOSE folks are the REAL cyclists. And these folks—definitely not:

Too big.

Too big.

Too black.

Too black.

Too old.

Too old.

Too average.

Too average.

Too lame.

Too lame.

Oh, but what if it's not so much the way you look as the fact that you're not working as hard as you think you should be? You only ride 2 miles to work. You don't ride in the rain or snow. You're slow. You drive part of the way and bike the rest. You take the easy streets, or even the path. Maybe if you were more like these guys:

The fluorescence really kicks it up a notch.

The fluorescence really kicks it up a notch.

Now this is hardcore.

Now this is hardcore.

Stop. Listen to me. Here I am, holding your shoulders gently but firmly, looking directly into your eyes. I'm waiting for you to hear with your whole heart what I'm about to say: 

Whatever you're doing—it's enough.
However you look—you belong. 
Wherever you are—it's the perfect place, to begin or continue or stay. 

You can be a real cyclist if you want. All it requires is riding a bike, and declaring yourself so. I'll believe you, I promise. At Yay Bikes!, we all will. Hardcore cheers to you, and to all of us who ride!  

The Year of the Woman

12 Year of Yay! rides, 12 women leaders. 

12 Year of Yay! rides, 12 women leaders. 

2018 Leaders & Themes

With a nod to our current essential/unfortunate/exciting/'bout-timey national conversation, I present to you a very special Yay Bikes!–style celebration of women's leadership. Our 2018 Year of Yay! ride series will be led by 12 FAB women (and, ok ok, 3 token men). And wouldja check out these leaders and their themes:

JAN = Catherine GirvesStretching
FEB = Sarah RiegelWinter Sports
MAR = Bertie Ford—Wine
APR = Marie Rineveld/Nic Binger—Bike Bingo
MAY = Louise Perry/Casey Nickles—The Future is Electric
JUN = Kathleen O’Dowd/Craig Clark—Simple Living
JUL = Taryn Wilson—Flower Power
AUG = Kaitlin Clark—Radio
SEP = Bethel Yared—Art Hop
OCT = Shyra Allen—Clowns
NOV = Vonjia Shannon—Veterans
DEC = Meredith Reed—Believe It or Not

We are so grateful that these women have agreed to lend their time, talents and creativity to these rides. Representation is critical to getting more women riding bikes--because envisioning yourself doing a big new thing often begins with seeing someone like you doing it first. Columbus has more women riding than most places, but we can always stand to bolster our numbers. Next year, let's take that on in a big way. Join us to ride with these women, and bring your friends!


2018 button art

Stay tuned...!


2018 Start/End Location

And finally, without further ado—our 2018 start/end location will be....

luckysmarket_logo_vector.png

That's right, in Clintonville--2770 North High Street, Columbus OH 43202. Rejoice! And see you there soon for a ride. 

Bike / race

A very happy birthday ride, with one unfortunate bummer. Photo credit: Deltrece Daniels

A very happy birthday ride, with one unfortunate bummer. Photo credit: Deltrece Daniels

Cuyahoga Valley National Park, outside of Akron, OH, September 30, 2017

Glorious day, bike with friends, birthday celebration
Stopped for a rest, exuberant
Dozens of bikes parked everywhere
One small bike rack, a woman from our group put her bike there
    Near another bike already parked—handlebars touching

Our group congregated there, jovial
Stranger with toddler retrieves her bicycle
    Angrily
    Others are disrespecting her property (handlebars touching)
Friend who parked near her bike, responds
    Frustrated
    Can’t we all just enjoy this beautiful day
Conversation continues back and forth
    Heated
    Voices rise
Stranger with toddler: “You people…always ruin everything…”

Oh

She means: “You black people always ruin everything.”

Me, to Stranger with toddler (white woman to white woman): “Have we met?”
Stranger with toddler: “What?”
Me: “You don’t look familiar but you say you know how we always are. Have we met?”

Stranger with toddler, riding away in a huff, yells back to the group: “Black ghetto…”

Group: Unsurprised; deflated

Maybe, if you are a white person unaccustomed to riding with people of color, you are not aware that this sort of thing happens. Or that it happens so often it is the subject of morbid jokes, masking fear as folks ride through certain spaces. You could be forgiven for not knowing; after all, racism arises mostly in the presence of someone believed not to belong.

But if you are one of those people, I am telling you now that people of color and the white folks with them are confronted by explicit racism while riding bikes. I’ve experienced it and I’ve heard more stories than I can count. It is more prevalent than you might expect.

I wrote my Battle Ready article this past February:

Our movement, which has focused on achieving infrastructure that promotes safety, needs to become more attuned to the culture in which people have to ride. Let us now understand that not everyone who rides has the same experience of their ride, regardless of the infrastructure available—some of us, due to our sex, body shape or skin color, assume more risk than others. Our community must rally around to forcefully denounce these threats.

With renewed urgency I return to this theme and expand upon it.

First, I acknowledge that racism is a sensitive subject in this country. Emotions are heightened. Tensions are amplified. I get it. Most of us are exhausted from reckoning with it. Given that, some of you might be thinking, “Please can we not make this a racial thing? I’m just trying to escape into a bike ride, the one thing in life where I can get away from it all and have some joy and peace.”

It might feel easier for us bike folks to keep our heads down and ignore the topic altogether. Surely there is enough to do in the realm of bicycle infrastructure and bike rides and safety education, no?

Actually–no. The oppressions that permeate our culture, permeate everything. Even bike rides.

It is true, that all cyclists are sometimes subjected harassment from people driving in motor vehicles; we are all vulnerable as we ride. Some of us never feel more fearful or less powerful than when we’re on a bike.  

And yet, beloved friends, can we take a moment, without judgment, to imagine what it must be like for our fellow bike comrades, whose ordinary fear of cars and their drivers is too-often compounded by the your-type-doesn’t-belong-here statements and (yes, even) threats of violence? Can we close our eyes, breathe deeply and just be with that for a moment? I hope upon doing so that you arrive at the same conclusion I have: we cannot let this stand, we simply cannot.

This organization’s mission is to influence the conditions that help people safely and comfortably ride bicycles for transportation. For our part, Yay Bikes! promises that we will continue to speak forcefully on difficult issues, like racism and other forms of oppression, as they pertain to the bicycle community. We are committed to the premise that all who join our rides, attend our events and encounter us elsewhere are respected and extended a generous welcome, and that action will be taken when our standards of conduct are not met. I hope you'll join Yay Bikes! in "taking a pedal" against bigotry in all forms.

Bike rides are among the very few spaces in our society where we've got nothing but time to chat about life, where difference can melt into camaraderie. People can be known. Relationships can be built. Healing can occur. I hope you’ll join us for some bike rides with friends, new and old. 

Going small

Me (far right), making time for long bike rides with loved ones. Photo credit: Shyra Allen

Me (far right), making time for long bike rides with loved ones. Photo credit: Shyra Allen

(Gulp…) So I never thought I’d say this but…I think I’m a recreational cyclist now. All the signs are there: eagerly planning long bike rides, going on long bike rides, enjoying long bike rides. And if you know me, you know this is SUPER weird. I work, I don’t play! I ride my bike for utility, not fun! Admitting that I ride recreationally now, just for fun—well, it’s like I don’t even know myself anymore.

This may have been a natural progression for me. I mean, I am the Executive Director of a bicycle advocacy organization (albeit one focused on transportation cycling), after all! But I do wonder if the acceleration my path to recreational riding this year isn’t somehow tied to the topsy-turvy nature of USA 2017. I’ve been frustrated a lot this year. Pondering how to be of use in this moment, wondering if perhaps I’m going about it all wrong. I’m still out there every day, advocating with all my heart for the big stuff—peaceful streets and better bicycling conditions. But is seems I’ve also been heeding a call from deep within to “go small”. It’s been a time of nurturing relationships; exploring, learning and reflecting; meeting new people; moving my body—a time, yes, of long bike rides. 

There are ways in which our bicycle movement absolutely speaks to the broader, more fraught issues of our time—more on that next month—but it also offers us a rare and necessary space in our society for healing. Rebuilding frayed nerves and relationships, one pedal stroke at a time. Connecting folks from different neighborhoods, one corridor at a time. What could be more important than this? This is The Work that I and Yay Bikes! are called to do. If you're feeling overwhelmed, sad, angry, hopeless, I encourage you go small with me. Not so small that you go into hiding. Just small enough for a restorative bike ride with friends new and old.

Much love to you all.

Smooch! 

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.

We are powerful.

Hundreds of people embark on 2016's Bike the Cbus ride. Photo credit: Ben Ko

Hundreds of people embark on 2016's Bike the Cbus ride. Photo credit: Ben Ko

At Yay Bikes!, our days are spent working to influence the conditions that help people safely and comfortably ride bicycles for transportation. That work takes many forms, some of which you likely recognize—parking bicycles with Yay Valet! at festivals to help people feel confident riding their bikes there; leading monthly Year of Yay! rides that help people acclimate to traffic; supporting people on How We Roll and Ride Buddy rides that teach them how to ride roads; offering annual Bike the Cbus and Ride of Silence events that bring our bicycle community together; riding with professionals throughout Ohio on Professional Development Rides that demonstrate how they can improve conditions for people who ride for transportation in their communities. Other work happens at the many meetings and other events we attend each month. Still more work occurs to develop communications, plan events, run an office and etc., etc., etc. And because our organizational values and theory of change demand a deep commitment to excellence and a meaningful investment in people, our work takes work. 

We have a tiny staff. We could hardly be more “lean”. Staff doesn’t have the capacity to do all we’ve taken on. 

BUT LUCKILY!

There is a vast, often unseen, machinery at work to help us accomplish all of the above. And that machinery is the literally hundreds of YOUs out there who support our programming every year. You park bikes, set up bicycle valets, make Year of Yay! buttons, lead rides, sweep rides, tie Ride of Silence arm bands, place signs, design routes, table at events, take and post photos, pour beverages, support registration, prepare mailings, raise funds, promote events, invite friends. You sacrifice your free time to attend ride leader trainings, your rides to support those who are new or struggling, your beer guzzling festival time to park bikes. You are an army of the givingest folks I have ever experienced, and our bicycle community is achieving the gains it is today directly as a result. We, together, are enacting change on a major scale throughout Central Ohio and beyond; we, together, are powerful.  

Time and again what people say about Yay Bikes! and riding bikes in general, is that it’s the community that has made bicycling such a magical force in their lives. It’s true. And I invite all of you who share our values to come experience our community for yourself. Whether you ride or not, there is a place for you here, and we couldn’t be more grateful for your unique contribution to this hard, fun, life changing, excellent work. 

Thank you. A million, trillion times, thank you.

You belong with us

ALL (who are kind) are welcome here.

ALL (who are kind) are welcome here.

One of the great joys of increasing our organizational capacity is that we are finally in a position to better engage volunteers and support your leadership in Yay Bikes!. With the hiring of Deo, our new-as-of-this-year Program Manager, we can really take the time to match you with the gigs that best fit your skills and interests. The following are two new opportunities we're offering monthly to help you figure out where you belong:

COFFEE WITH CATHERINE

Can't wait to meet you, or catch up!

Can't wait to meet you, or catch up!

Now everyone knows that I am THE WORST at returning emails...So henceforth I will be setting aside "cafe hours" each month for conversation with all comers with questions about Yay Bikes! and the state of bicycle advocacy in Ohio. If you want to know how to support our advocacy in your part of the world, I encourage you to come for a chat!

DROP-INS WITH DEO

This face, waiting to smile at you!

This face, waiting to smile at you!

Meanwhile Deo will be offering Drop-ins that help you learn more about our service and leadership opportunities—we have everything from low-commitment tasks with on-the-spot training to big jobs that require both training and invitation. If you want to learn how to get involved with Yay Bikes!, come prepared to talk about yourself (who doesn't love that?!) and Deo will help you figure out what works.

We'll be sitting in different cafes in different parts of town, during different hours of the day each month, to accommodate everyone who wants to chat with us. Check our calendar for upcoming "Coffee Talks" with me and Deo. Then come say hi! Because one way or another, where you belong is with us.

Want to get a jump on next steps? Before you come out, join or renew your membership! It's an easy way to demonstrate your commitment Yay Bikes! and creating bicycle friendly communities in Ohio. 

The Spirit of Columbus

Updated August 2018

On April 17, 1964, a woman named Jerrie Mock became the first woman to fly solo around the world when she landed her single-engine Cessna, named “Spirit of Columbus”, at Port Columbus International Airport. In 2013, The Columbus Foundation created the Spirit of Columbus Award to recognize individuals who, like Jerrie, “have exhibited an exemplary community spirit through their accomplishments”. Today, the phrase has taken on new life as our community has embraced it to celebrate anything local “that distinguishes and inspires us”. As someone who has lived in and been inspired by Columbus my entire life, I’m clear that list is long. Columbus is the best city in the world!

Oh! Oh, my...! Photo credit: Bryan Barr

Oh! Oh, my...! Photo credit: Bryan Barr

Which is largely why I was so thrilled in 2015 when Yay Bikes! was invited to take over Bike the Cbus, Columbus’ annual neighborhood bike ride event. Now in its 11th year, Bike the Cbus is a shining example of all that makes this city exceptional. In the tradition of rides like NYC’s Five Boro Bike Tour, Pittsburgh’s PedalPGH and Detroit’s Tour de Troit, Bike the Cbus showcases 30 miles of the best of our city’s urban core and surrounding neighborhoods—Southside! Merion Village! Franklinton! Victorian Village! OSU Campus! Clintonville! University District! Weinland Park! Milo Grogan! King Lincoln Bonzeville! Olde Towne East! Children’s Hospital! Downtown! Brewery District! Whittier Peninsula! Bicentennial Park! German Village! More! And for Bike the CbusPLUS riders, all of Franklin County! 

The Shoe in view. Photo credit: Bryan Barr

The Shoe in view. Photo credit: Bryan Barr

You’ve experienced many of these places, sure. But have you experienced them at the speed of bike? Because THAT is when you know, truly and intimately, the magic of a place—its smells, its hidden nooks, its vibe, its story. I promise you this. Ride a bike through Columbus and you’ll fall in love with it, or fall in love all over again. Something you experience riding Bike the Cbus or Bike the CbusPLUS will surprise and delight you. Whether it’s the hospitality of a local business, a route that shows you a better way to get somewhere, a picturesque view of the city, the new friends you make or something else entirely, you’ll emerge from this ride Columbus Proud. Guaranteed. 

Wait, what?!?! Photo credit: Ben Ko

Wait, what?!?! Photo credit: Ben Ko

A friendly hello greets a Bike the Cbus rider. Photo credit: Ben Ko

A friendly hello greets a Bike the Cbus rider. Photo credit: Ben Ko

This is our ride, Columbus! Yet another reason to be proud of this place and its people! 

So I personally invite all of you to embrace this community asset and join me in celebrating the Spirit of Columbus by registering for Bike the Cbus or Bike the CbusPLUS todayAll profits from the ride go directly to support the advocacy work of Yay Bikes!, which works to make bicycling better all year round. It's a feedback loop that keeps making this city of ours a national draw. Yay you! Yay us! Yay ColumbUS! 

Over the bridge into Downtown. Photo credit: Ben Ko

Over the bridge into Downtown. Photo credit: Ben Ko

Mark it. September 1. See you there!

The sounds of silence

My son Alex and I, embarking on our homeward journey.

My son Alex and I, embarking on our homeward journey.

Never did it occur to me I could ride 263 miles in one weekend—at least, not until the century I recently completed with the help of friends. But over Memorial Day weekend, my son and I did it: Columbus > Parkersburg, WV > Columbus! What a fascinating turn in my bike life journey, with takeaways including:

Rolling hills are great fun. Wicking fabric in 3-hour rains save rides. Nature sucks (as do allergies). No thanks, gravel inclines! I love music! Birds are pretty rad, too. I CAN DO IT.

This last is a particularly Good Thing to know about oneself. I'm proud of all times I managed my discomfort to pedal one additional mile. I'm in awe of all the times I wanted to call for a pickup but didn't. I'm stronger than I thought I was.

But even more than that, was the silence. During much of the ride I did not talk, think (not even about work, which for anyone who knows me is...miraculous), distract myself with electronics: I was blank. So blank, in fact, that I began to understand what bird watchers are all about (which, for anyone who knows me, was NOT something that was ever gonna happen). It took a veeerrry long bike ride for me to reconnect with the stillness inside me. And what a gift that has been. 

When I began riding a bicycle—a poor quality, ill fitting bicycle—for transportation, more than a decade ago, I could not have guessed where it would take me (literally or figuratively). Certainly I never would have thought I'd actually enjoy all my daily short-mileage trips. And definitely not long-distance recreational riding. And absolutely not a 263 mile journey to Parkersburg and back.

Now I'm not saying that everyone should follow my path. If sewing or soccer or cooking is your path to transformation, rock on with your bad self. But I AM saying that if you've been thinking that biking just might be your thing—you're probably right, and I'm here for you. Yay Bikes! is here for you. Come on out for a ride! You'll not know where it will take you, but you can pretty much guarantee discovery, community, fun and adventure. None too shabby, eh?

Yay bikes! Yay you!

Life outside your car

The Ohio Department of Transportation and the Ohio Department of Health are unveiling their new active transportation campaign this month!

The Ohio Department of Transportation and the Ohio Department of Health are unveiling their new active transportation campaign this month!

People often share with me that they'd like to ride their bicycles for transportation...if not for X. And, to be fair, there are plenty of obstacles one might encounter when navigating a bike life from scratch on your own. So take a deep breath and start where you are. Ride to a festival or to grab coffee with friends. You don't have to give up your car today or start with a work commute. As lovely as it is to commute by bicycle to work—really, I can't recommend it highly enough—it's among the higher-stakes rides you could attempt out the gate. 

That said, if you're thinking of going for it, THIS IS YOUR MOMENT! May is National Bike Month, and that combined with several initiatives occurring locally means you'll be uniquely supported as you hit the streets this month: 

Yay Bikes! is heading up local coordination of the National Bike Challenge. Log your trips to encourage friendly competition within Central Ohio and throughout the country—and for a chance to win prizes, of course.

Yay Bikes! will be participating in two local Bike to Work Day events—the May 19 ride and the May 18 tabling event. Come say hi, and ride with us!

The Ohio Department of Transportation and Ohio Department of Health are launching their Statewide Active Transportation Plan "think outside your car" campaign to encourage Ohioans to choose active modes of transportation, and pass bicyclists safely when traveling by car. Soon Yay Bikes! will also announce the 5 agencies to benefit from this spring's How We Roll / Ride Buddy pilot program for state employees!

COTA launches their systemwide overhaul this month with FREE rides May 1–7. Too far to ride all the way to work? Ride to a bus stop, load your bike on the front rack (here's how!) and veg during the journey! 

The Mid Ohio Regional Planning Commission's 2016 Columbus Metro Bike Map is available online, and coming to a bike shop near you (courtesy Yay Bikes! special delivery) soon. 

Our original Bike Life 101 content provides lots of valuable information on how to use your bicycle for transportation. For more personalized support, Yay Bikes! is offering How We Roll rides FREE to our members—this month with an extra weekend time slot to accommodate every schedule!

If you are looking to make a change in your life, to finally begin exploring the joys of a life outside your car, let's get together and help you figure out how. Yes, you can!

Training trainers

A cohort of trainees from around the state learns to deliver critical info while leading a How We Roll ride, at our Columbus-based training. 

A cohort of trainees from around the state learns to deliver critical info while leading a How We Roll ride, at our Columbus-based training. 

In March, we trained 16 people from throughout Ohio—Dayton, Cleveland, Fremont, Marietta, Columbus, Waverly, Lima and Massillon—to deliver How We Roll and Ride Buddy rides to members of their communities. The 3-day trainings, which occurred in Columbus and Fremont, were funded by the Ohio Department of Health as part of their commitment to promoting active transportation in Ohio. An additional 9 people were trained in August of 2016 to lead commuter-oriented educational rides, the "Yay Way!". Participants were planners, advocates, public health professionals, engineers and more. All = total badass rock stars. 

A trainee practices leading a How We Roll ride through the University District.  

A trainee practices leading a How We Roll ride through the University District.  

With 3 commuter ride leader trainings in the span of 6 months, it's clear that Ohio has gotten real when it comes to promoting active transportation, and bicycling in particular. Having 25 people trained to lead educational rides throughout the state represents a massive surge in our capacity to transition people from driving motor vehicles to riding bicycles. More importantly, it represents a shift in the way our leadership is thinking about—and investing in—bicycle education. Gone are the days in which print materials were the beginning and end of our education campaigns! As Yay Bikes! has always insisted, bicycle education works when people teach people how to navigate traffic by bicycle. Now, we are proud to note that our expertise in this area is being employed to enact uniquely effective "mode shift" programming statewide. And we are very proud of the people who completed our extremely rigorous, mentally and physically challenging training, knowing they will be a great service to Ohio in the years to come. 

A cohort of trainees from around the state practices delivering critical info while leading a How We Roll ride, at our Fremont-based training. Photo credit: Nelson Shogren

A cohort of trainees from around the state practices delivering critical info while leading a How We Roll ride, at our Fremont-based training. Photo credit: Nelson Shogren

Remember, Yay Bikes! now offers members a FREE How We Roll ride—we are here to help you sharpen your road riding skills and ride more confidently than ever before. Check for upcoming rides and register today! Not a member? Join today! Not in Columbus? Hit us up and we'll put you in touch with one of our new ride leaders.
A vast and mighty army is at the ready, waiting for you to take the leap into your fabulous bike life. 3...2...1...JUMP! 

It's your year!

Happiness is volunteering with friends.

Happiness is volunteering with friends.

I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not always been easy to plug into the work of Yay Bikes!. With a small staff, it’s been challenging for us to adequately support everyone who wants to be involved. This year, however, we’re ready. We have a new plan, a new person and plenty of opportunities for you to apply your passion to what we're up to. I encourage you to explore, reach out, stick your toe in or your neck out, get trained, take ownership, step into greatness, have fun, settle into a community, make a difference. Yay Bikes! is all that for you, and more. Below are some ways to learn how to plug into all that awesome.

THE PLAN

Read our 2017 Strategic Plan to find out where we're headed, and how you might help advance our goals this year.

THE PERSON

Meet Deo, our new Program Manager

Meet Deo, our new Program Manager

Reach out to Deo (deo@yaybikes.com) for a chat. Deo will be largely taking over the role I've been playing in delivering our programs and coordinating volunteers. And he's lovely, folks! He will take good care of you. When you feel ready to step into volunteering with Yay Bikes!, Deo is your man.

THE OPPORTUNITIES

Stay attuned to the opportunities posted on our Volunteering page; more will be added all the time as our season unfolds (there are often others as well, which may not get posted—again, contact Deo to learn more). If biking is your passion and you want to serve through Yay Bikes!, pick up some shifts parking bikes or tabling or making Year of Yay! buttons. As you model our values doing the small tasks, we just may tap you to get trained for volunteer leadership positions. There is always the chance for growth in our organization. 

 

 

Battle ready

Emotions are running high these days.

Amidst all the chaos, I’ve been tempted to wonder—where does bicycle advocacy belong? I ride my bike as transportation almost every day, so I’ve had the time and space to thoroughly consider this point. And I tell you—people who ride, bicycle advocacy has everything to do with building the Beloved Community we all need.

People who ride, advocating for ethical engineering

What was the most photographed slide by the sold-out crowd of engineers and other transportation professionals atODOT's Active Transportation Engineer’s Forum earlier this week? Remarkably, the one reading:

Vision Zero takes the position that it is unethical to create a situation where fatalities are a likely outcome of a crash in order to reduce delay, fuel consumption, or other societal objectives. It is unethical to prioritize the mobility of one person over the safety of another person.

The goal of transportation engineers is shifting dramatically, from an emphasis of moving cars to an emphasis of moving people. The future is ours, but we have to show up to claim it. As with any change, many may be on board, but some are not. Federal guidelines for bike and pedestrian infrastructure still do not adequately support engineers ready to implement it. And leadership change begets priorities change. We must continue demanding accommodations for those who ride, or inertia will stall our progress and engineers’ best intentions to facilitate it.

People who ride, advocating for sanity

As a seasoned activist, I am cheered to note that most of the survival guides out there highlight self care as a critical element of our effectiveness. To settle in for the long haul, we must make time to unplug, be silent, recharge. I’ve noticed when I ride to my destination I am able to recharge en route and arrive fresh and clear-headed. When I ride with friends, my faith in humanity is restored. Bicycling beats burnout.

People who ride, advocating for transportation options & intersectionality

All people deserve to have viable transportation options that allow us to successfully navigate our lives. And while many of us have the choice to ride or drive, others among us do not. During the 10 years in which I first became a transportation bicyclist it was out of economic necessity. When conversations about affordable housing, safety, education, sustainability, economic development and equity omit transportation, it's a missed opportunity. It's on us to communicate to potential partners how bicycling is a solution to many of the concerns we share.

People who ride, advocating for an expanded notion of safe streets

"It's Trump time, nigger!” A man yelled this out a truck window to a friend of mine as he was riding his bicycle to work. "Mooooo!" A group of men called out to another friend as her large body pedaled down the street. Yes—in Columbus. Our movement, which has focused on achieving infrastructure that promotes safety, needs to become more attuned to the culture in which people have to ride. Let us now understand that not everyone who rides has the same experience of their ride, regardless of the infrastructure available—some of us, due to our sex, body shape or skin color, assume more risk than others. Our community must rally around to forcefully denounce these threats. 

People who ride, banding together

It’s time to advocate. Are you battle ready? I am. Let's join together.

Tracking (is) what matters

That fateful day, thanks to Deanne (front), a goal was born!

That fateful day, thanks to Deanne (front), a goal was born!

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

On New Year’s Day 2016, I happened to be riding with a group of friends. We had ridden about 14 miles when my friend Deanne said we should ride 16, for 2016. It was cold and we wanted to be done, but we were so close, and it was such a good idea, that we pushed through and did it. There is something about setting a goal that helps a person make a plan, and then move towards achieving it—particularly in those moments when it is not very much fun. So that day I set a goal: I’d ride 100% of the days in 2016, even if only for very short trips, for a total of 2016 miles. Which changed everything about how I thought about bicycling. 

One year later I can report the following: 255 days of biking (70%), for a total of 2,477 miles. Pretty kickass, no?!

I’m not gonna lie. There were days after I realized I wouldn’t make it to 100% in which I chose not to ride, all pouty-like. That’s a danger with setting big goals—when it seems you’ll not be able to attain them, it’s easy to say “f it” and quit. But because I’d been tracking, I noticed something. Maybe I wasn’t going to be able to 100% of days, but 70% was absolutely within reach…and still pretty kickass! Hmmm….so I got back on my bike and rode some more. 

What gets measured gets done, as they say. Clichéd? OK sure. Still true? Yes!

I’m not hardcore. People seem to think I am, but I swear to you that I’m simply utilitarian (OK, and competitive….) I find life is easier when I choose to ride. It’s cheaper, of course, and also I don’t have to deal with parking. And I feel better about myself and the world around me. But I’m slow and my trips are often quite short. My point is that anyone can do what I’ve done—set a goal to ride a certain number of days or trips or miles, do it and then track it. The tracking is non-negotiable. Those of us who are up to something big must have a way to stay motivated, keep ourselves accountable, and cheer ourselves when we feel like a failure. We've almost always done more than we think we have, and knowing that can propel us to carry on.

Not coincidentally, given the time of year, we’re in the midst of setting 2017’s organizational goals at Yay Bikes!. For a small nonprofit, I’m proud to say that we are uniquely oriented toward evaluation. As we develop our measurable objectives and tracking protocols this year, we are motivated to identify the metrics that truly help us achieve the big goals that advance our mission. Not tracking for tracking’s sake, but tracking that provides access to excellence and transformation. From my own experience, I can tell you that this will get the job done. I'll be very excited to share our strategic plan with you as soon as it’s approved at our board meeting this month. In the meantime, you can check out our 2016 Annual Report (pdf) to see what we've accomplished recently!

For the record, what am I shooting for this year? I plan to ride 75% of days, and add more recreational miles to my total. Mileage isn’t so important to me because I’m about replacing car trips with bike trips, and those trips tend to be five miles or less. But whatever type of ride I’m on, you better believe I’ll be keeping track. Join me? Year of Yay! and Bike the Cbus do count, you know! :)

Riding with friends is the best way to ride. See you soon??

Riding with friends is the best way to ride. See you soon??

Bowling Green: a case in point

The Bowling Green fire chief takes a turn  Photo credit J.D. Pooley of the Sentinel-Tribune

The Bowling Green fire chief takes a turn  Photo credit J.D. Pooley of the Sentinel-Tribune

I spent 23 hours in Bowling Green this fall. On October 12 Kathleen Watkins and I led a Professional Development Ride with the City Engineer, Fire Chief, Civil Engineer and Assistant Municipal Administrator. I returned November 7 and hosted two Professional Development Rides with the Director of Public Works, 2 City Council members, a Bowling Green University student organization representative, a reporter from BG Independent News and one from the Sentinel-Tribune, 2 City Council Members, Ohio Department of Transportation District 2 Engineer and 2 local bicycle advocates. After the rides that day, I led a public meeting with approximately 50 attendees in which I presented about safe riding practices and facilitated discussion about them. The media coverage was encouraging:

Bike tour of BG opens eyes to some solutions

Cycling advocacy group shows ‘tourists’ how to experience bike-friendly BG

VIDEO: Advocacy group's tour points out safe ways to bike BG

And the direct feedback (from the ODOT engineer) was even more so:

I participated in the Bowling Green Professional Development Ride yesterday afternoon. I can’t begin to tell you how much I learned from Yay Bikes! about bicycling in this community in just over 3 hours.

Although I have lived in Bowling Green for the past 14 years, I have never ridden a bike here prior to yesterday. I am not a cyclist. I don’t own a bicycle, and I haven’t ridden one for 30 years. Yay Bikes! provided me with a bike and helmet for yesterday’s ride.

The ride was not at all what I expected it to be. I fully expected a high-pressure sales pitch to construct miles of bike lanes and multi-use paths all over the city. Instead, the entire experience and information shared was intensely practical and focused on cost-effective solutions. The experiential nature of the session really opened my eyes to a lot of things which impact bicyclists and traffic safety that I would likely neglect otherwise, such as: trees, sidewalks, pavement widths, lane widths, use of signaling to turn/change lanes, and (most importantly) bicyclist lane position.

I was pleasantly surprised how courteous vehicular traffic interacted with us on every street we traveled. We rode on several residential, collector and arterial streets, including significant stretches along State Route 25 (Main Street), a 4-lane arterial with many signalized intersections and driveways. We did not have a single close call; no one honked, yelled, or made offensive gestures at us the entire time we were on the road.

I highly recommend this program to anyone who wants to make their community more bicycle-friendly. It was an eye-opener for me, and I’m sure that others will have a similar positive experience.
Photo credit: Kathleen Watkins

Photo credit: Kathleen Watkins

Since the rides, I've spent at least 7 hours on the phone with city leadership, including Jason Sisco, Bowling Green's City Engineer, and Robert McOmber, a City Council Member, about updates they're considering. A group from Bowling Green is planning a trip to Columbus to experience our infrastructure first-hand. And soon, "Bikes May Use Full Lane" signs will be popping up throughout town (the message is already in rotation on the electronic billboard by the police station)!

So 47 hours—23 in Bowling Green, 7 on the phone with their leadership, and an additional 17 in the office preparing. And yet a complete transformation is underway in that community, with dozens of advocates and professionals now on a coordinated path to accommodating people who ride there. Wouldn't it be perfection if everyone in America had an experience of riding on roads? Wouldn't it be pretty close to perfection if every transportation professional did? We're back in action on another round of ODOT-funded Professional Development Rides next spring. Support that work now with your gift. 

Gratitude

Profound gratitude.

Profound gratitude.

November! The season to reflect and give thanks! 

Conveniently, with all the hours I've clocked driving across Ohio delivering Professional Development Rides of late, I've had plenty of time to reflect (when I'm not rocking out to Hamilton at top volume, duh). And it turns out I'm grateful, fundamentally. 

Of course my gratitude extends far beyond the scope of this blog post, so in keeping solely with the context of my current situation... For weeks now, as you may know, I've been delivering Professional Development Rides at a rate of 1, 2 or even 3 (!) a week. To date Yay Bikes! has led 20 rides with approximately 100 professionals; 5 more are scheduled and ODOT has just renewed our contract to provide an additional 21 rides. By spring, more than 200 professionals in more than 2 dozen communities in Ohio will have ridden with us. Many of them will have experienced their community by bicycle for the very first time on their ride. 

So when I think of what I'm grateful for this season, foremost on my list is all those who have ridden with us. These people! You guys—I don't wanna say this too plainly lest the word gets out, but....{whisper} they don't have to ride with us! They can easily fill their time with whatever legions of VIP tasks no doubt piling up on their desks. I mean, we have mayors and police chiefs and city engineers and economic development officers and city council members and more coming on these rides! These positions are excuses. Add in the fact that bicycle advocates don't have the best reputation (pugnacity: it's true) and that they may be terrified of riding with traffic, and it's a darn near miracle that anyone rides with us at all. 

But their commitment to this work is unexpected and humbling and inspiring, and they do ride. I'm privileged to be granted their trust, and the ability to inform open minds as they consider how best to encourage bicycling in their communities. It is a rare gift from the universe, and I give thanks.

Join Yay Bikes! today to join me in celebration of this work!

Riding with some Athens VIPs. Yay you!

Riding with some Athens VIPs. Yay you!

One bike ride at a time

Sandusky's Professional Development Ride. 

Sandusky's Professional Development Ride. 

I thought we would focus on getting bikes off of streets, but the ride made me think of biking in a different way and that done right, you could ride almost anywhere.

This month I've been criss-crossing our great state of Ohio with fellow Yay Bikes! ride leaders, guiding dozens (77 and counting!) of "influencers" on Professional Development Rides that are transforming how they think about bicyclists and bicycle infrastructure. That's not my own feel-good impression. It's coming through loud and clear, over and over again, on our program evaluation surveys. You can see it in participants' own words, scattered throughout this post: this work works. 

Where we've ridden. 

Where we've ridden. 

By the end of this month we will have ridden in 13 communities with professionals from all over Ohio. Mayors! Council Members and Commissioners! Engineers! Planners! Advocates! Public health and parks employees! Philanthropists! Economic development officers! Etc.! 

Our instructors were excellent! The experience has positively changed my thoughts on cycling and bicycle enthusiasts.

Why do all these VIPs consent to ride with Yay Bikes!? It's "the Yay Way"—or rather, how we are with them: kind, encouraging, neutral, grateful. Quoting one hesitant participant: "This isn't going to be some extended bitchfest, is it?". No, it isn't! We don't attack, we don't proscribe, we don't bitch. We lead and teach, and allow our participants to reach their own professional conclusions about what would work best for their communities' cyclists, given their unique circumstances.  

I was unaware of how much right to the traveled lane roadway bike users had.

Many of these professionals had never ridden streets before, or didn't understand how to ride them in a way that maximizes their safety. With the best of intentions, they simply didn't know what they didn't know about how a cyclist experiences different roads, or makes the choices they do to stay safe. But six weeks after their rides? A significant majority say they now "advocate more strongly and confidently for bicyclists" at their jobs. Wow. Take a pause here to think about that. People in position to influence conditions for cyclists throughout the state understand now what cyclists need AND they have become bicycle advocates! This. Work. Works. 

I learned the viewpoint of the cyclist. I learned traffic laws. Misconceptions were cleared up.

Constant travel is exhausting. My unanswered emails are piled a mile high; my brain is mush. But according to the data, one thing remains true and steady: Yay Bikes! is making a difference in this world. And that brings me joy and peace during this crazy season. Which I look forward to sharing with you.... next month, after a nap or several...


We offer programming like this with support from the Ohio Department of Health, the Ohio Department of Transportation and the support of our members. Join now!