Testimonial

Nik's Yay Bikes! Journey

Yay Bikes! Journeys recount how Yay Bikes! is transforming lives and communities, from the perspective of those we’ve impacted. In this installment, we hear from Nik Olah about how the Yay Bikes! community has rallied around him during his time of need.

The man, the myth, the legend: Nik Olah. Photo: Ray George

The man, the myth, the legend: Nik Olah. Photo: Ray George

Biking, for me, is fundamentally a social experience. I ride with people to soak up life with them. It’s the time we’ve spent just being together, talking or silently taking in the scenery, that has forged some of the friendships I’ve relied on most since my cancer diagnosis. 
— Nik Olah

COMING UNDONE: ‘Humbling’ doesn’t even come close to capturing the outpouring of love I’ve received from this community over the past 12 months.”

Shortly after the Year of Yay! ride in July 2017, Nik Olah walked from his apartment in Downtown Columbus to the emergency room at Grant Hospital. Though he had trouble convincing the doctors there of it, he knew something wasn't right. He knew this because after the Year of Yay! ride someone had offered to drive him home from Whole Foods Market at Easton and, too tired to ride the 10 extra miles, he accepted. This was weird. He had just returned from an epic bicycle camping trip through Glacier National Park, so 10 miles? Pshaw! He finally convinced the doctors to run some tests, and one week later he got the devastating diagnosis: stage IV pancreatic cancer. Nik would be lucky to live another few months. 

Nik, shortly before his cancer diagnosis.

Nik, shortly before his cancer diagnosis.

His world fell apart at that point, as anyone's would. Suddenly the guy known to everyone in the Yay Bikes! community as "the ultimate sweep"—the one who'd stay behind to ride with anyone who was struggling—found himself in need of the support he'd offered to so many for so long. And indeed, in the months following his diagnosis, it was often his bicycle community that buoyed both his spirits and his health. “People have helped me clean and cook, sat with me as I cried, traveled and ridden with me, joined me at doctor’s visits…I couldn’t ask for better friends,” said Nik, tears in his eyes.  

MAKING COLUMBUS HOME: "I came to Columbus for the opportunity to earn more money, but my heart was elsewhere for a long time. I stopped driving back to Toledo every weekend when I finally began going on Yay Bikes! rides."

In 2008, Nik moved to the Columbus area from Toledo, where he’d lived his entire life. With his new, better-paying job, he replaced the bicycle he’d had stolen 10 years before and began riding the paths and parks of Westerville. He attempted a ride with the Westerville Bike Club but…it did not go well; Nik couldn’t keep up with the group. Eventually he decided to move to downtown Columbus, where he met folks who enjoyed the more leisurely, sociable style of riding that suited him. As best as we can figure, Nik found his way to a Year of Yay! ride sometime in 2014. He still didn’t have many friends in Columbus, so he returned to Toledo most weekends. But as he began attending more Yay Bikes! events, and Ray George pulled him into other rides, he started to form a community here. Columbus finally began to feel like home. Along with board games, curling and rum connoisseur-ing, bicycling became his life—he sold his car when he determined it’d be cheaper and easier to live without it, and he has never turned back. 

Nik being Nik on a holiday Year of Yay! ride!

Nik being Nik on a holiday Year of Yay! ride!

BEING YAY BIKES!: "You can do it. There's only Nik (i.e., five) miles left to go*..."

Nik turned out to be the perfect embodiment of Yay Bikes! According to our theory of change, “We facilitate a caring community of cyclists because we believe that changing transportation behaviors is difficult when attempted in isolation.” And Nik’s ability to create meaningful relationships in a very short time is unparalleled. He hangs back with new riders, sharing his knowledge with them, distracting them with conversation, nudging them to just. keep. pedaling. And, with him, they find it within themselves to keep at it, long enough to gain the confidence of someone who’s done something previously unimaginable. They are able to move from fear into a bicycling lifestyle because Nik took the time to support them at a critical juncture on their journey.

(*Nik is known by friends to answer "five" whenever they ask how many miles are left to ride. Because anyone can ride just another five miles!)

Nik, Joel and Kathleen being cheered on during the 2018 Pan-Ohio Hope Ride. Photo: Darrell McGrath

Nik, Joel and Kathleen being cheered on during the 2018 Pan-Ohio Hope Ride. Photo: Darrell McGrath

ROLLING ONWARD: "Keep pedaling, find your tribe and locate your joy.”

Recently Nik has been sporting an electric bike, too weak to continue riding the steed he bought 10 years ago upon moving to Columbus. He was able to complete the American Cancer Society’s 2018 Pan Ohio Hope Ride, but realistically there won’t be another; he has accepted comfort care and expects to have passed by the end of the year. But, in typical Nik fashion, he wants his story to be told, and exploited for Good any way possible: "Anything I can do to turn this into a positive, I will gladly do," he says. He wants people know the magic of riding a bike. He wants them to know how profoundly their mental and physical health can be impacted by riding a bike. Most of all, he wants people to know that riding bikes is a way to know and be known, to develop “bike friends” that become “real friends” who will be there for you when things get rough. 

Yay Bikes! is forever grateful to Nik for his loving, joyful, generous presence. We will always treasure the many gifts he has bestowed on our community. 

Helmets off to you, friend. You are loved. 

Click here to give to Yay Bikes! in honor of Nik Olah.


Loving tributes to our friend:

>>To add your bike-themed tribute, send a picture and a brief paragraph to Meredith.<<

Tonni's new sign

Tonni poses with the sign she got installed, with help from Yay Bikes!, on St Clair Ave.

Tonni poses with the sign she got installed, with help from Yay Bikes!, on St Clair Ave.

Tonni Oberly was introduced to Yay Bikes! last summer when her employer offered Ride Buddy rides to teach employees how to commute by bicycle. A community advocate with Milo Grogan's new Cultivate Community Development Corporation, Tonni was already commuting to work by bike, and was so excited to share the love of riding with her colleagues that she came on three rides with us during the summer of 2017!

Tonni, right, joins her Ohio Department of Health colleagues on a Ride Buddy ride.&nbsp;

Tonni, right, joins her Ohio Department of Health colleagues on a Ride Buddy ride. 

Tonni was experiencing hostility on a segment of her daily commute—a narrow, one-lane bridge with a hill on St Claire Avenue that doesn't readily allow cars to pass when she's taking the full lane for safety (as is her right). So in June 2018 she emailed Meredith asking how to get a Bikes May Use Full Lane sign installed on that bridge. And—as quick as zip-zoom-zip—Meredith connected Tonni with the appropriate person within the City of Columbus, who did an assessment and had a sign installed...within the month.

Tonni is feeling much more relaxed now during that segment of her commute, confident that both motorists and bicyclists are being educated by the presence of her sign. Even more, she's in awe of the ease with which she was able to achieve this simple, yet meaningful, win. Without the assist from Yay Bikes!, she imagines it would have taken much longer to get a sign installed, with much more effort on her part. 

Indeed, bicycle advocacy can be a long slog, with roads taking years to design and designs taking years to implement. But Tonni, empowered by her achievement, reminds us that some smaller changes are within anyone's reach. And with Yay Bikes! out there in the world, chances are even better that we who ride will get it done—together!

THIS, folks, is what your membership dollars support. Join now!

Paul's Yay Bikes! Journey

Yay Bikes! Journeys recount how Yay Bikes! is transforming lives and communities, from the perspective of those we’ve impacted. In this installment, we hear from Paul Westrick, of zer0z wallets, about how his commitment to bikeable communities leads him to support Yay Bikes!.

Paul Westrick of zerOz in the wallet production area of his Gay Street retail shop, where artists are constantly churning out his unique, hand-crafted wallets.

Paul Westrick of zerOz in the wallet production area of his Gay Street retail shop, where artists are constantly churning out his unique, hand-crafted wallets.

The only way we’re going to make this [bicycling] something people can use to get around is through advocacy. I’ll do what I can, but I can’t do it all alone. That’s where Yay Bikes! comes in.”
— Paul Westrick

A GUIDING FORCE: "Everything connects to biking for me."

Paul Westrick, designer and business guru behind the patented zer0z wallet, has become well known among Downtown enthusiasts during the seven-or-so years his shop has graced the Gay Street corridor. His retail shop was/is a trailblazing effort for sure, but besides that, his friendly, exuberant personality is a powerful draw. Less well known, perhaps, is the extent to which Paul is a deeply committed cyclist who organizes his life around his ability to ride. He doesn't own a car ("I'm just NOT getting in that thing anymore", he said, regarding his decision to give it up) and commutes by bike daily from Clintonville to his shops in Downtown and Dublin, walking if it's too icy to ride. 

Yep, that's Paul under there!

Yep, that's Paul under there!

Paul, 15-year TOSRV veteran,&nbsp;front and center—an accidental poster boy!&nbsp;

Paul, 15-year TOSRV veteran, front and center—an accidental poster boy! 

PEDALING FORWARD, NOT BACK: "With all the crazy things happening in our world right now, simple practices like riding a bicycle are the future."

Paul's life—whether wallets, coffee, meditation or bikes—centers on common themes of simplicity, quality, pleasure and equity, and he is all in for active people and powerhouse organizations who are up to promoting these values. Over the years he has quietly invested in supporting their expression via the Columbus bike community by giving to Yay Bikes! (Ride of Silence is his fave), Pelotonia, Tour de Grandview and more. When asked what he would say to fellow small business owners who are skeptical of cyclists and bicycle infrastructure, he said, "Slowing down and getting people on bikes is this weirdly forward thing that we have a chance to connect to right now. I see the difference in the faces of my customers when they arrive by bike versus car, how happy they are. It's awesome! Happy people are always good for business." 

Buy a wallet with the Yay Bikes! logo—leather color and style of your choice—and Paul will donate $10 to Yay Bikes!&nbsp;

Buy a wallet with the Yay Bikes! logo—leather color and style of your choice—and Paul will donate $10 to Yay Bikes! 

DOING BUSINESS BY BIKE: "What changed my mind about locating an 'outpost' shop in Dublin was visiting there and realizing it was more accessible by bike than I'd imagined."

Paul had been approached numerous times by leasing agents hoping he'd expand his retail operations within their shopping centers, but never felt like the suburbs matched his lifestyle. He just couldn't wrap his head around the idea of locating his business in such car-centric areas. But when he began researching the Bridge Park District in Dublin and realized how bikeable and walkable the development was, he changed his attitude. "It's got so many bike trails nearby that driving really is not required," he said. "And I don't—I bike there from Clintonville and it's great! Most of my design ideas come while I'm riding my bike, so I'm being very creative these days!" Paul credits Yay Bikes! with promoting the types of places he wants to be (and locate businesses! and shop! and ride!), and introducing so many people folks to the joys of city streets by bike. "I am hugely committed to this work, and I can't do it without Yay Bikes!. You are making such a difference. Thank you!"

Even his origin story involves bikes!

Even his origin story involves bikes!

Yay Bikes! is grateful to Paul for his extraordinary passion for life, wallets and bicycling. We especially appreciate his extraordinary generosity to the cause of helping people safely transport themselves by bicycle. Helmets off to you, friend!


To share your Yay Bikes! Journey, contact Meredith to set up a chat!

Sarah's Yay Bikes! Journey

Yay Bikes! Journeys recount how Yay Bikes! is transforming lives and communities, from the perspective of those we’ve impacted. In this installment, we hear from Sarah Riegel about how her involvement with Yay Bikes! over the past couple of years has slowly changed how she knows both her city and herself. 

The Sarah! Photo credit: Keith Lugs Mayton

The Sarah! Photo credit: Keith Lugs Mayton

Hey! I can probably do this [ride to work] and not die doing this!
— Sarah Riegel

DIPPING A TOE IN: "Go figure—I like riding my bike now that I have a good bike to ride."

Like many people, Sarah rode her bike as a kid...until receiving her driver’s license. Like many people, she biked in college on an old beater bike...but living on a third-floor walkup didn't make it fun. Then, in 2012, a visiting friend had her tag along on a tour of bike shops and she got to thinking—maybe if she got a new bike she would enjoy riding more. And it turns out, she did! She started using her new bike for errands and her love of riding slowly grew from there. Then she did Bike the Cbus. Then she used Yay Valet! at a festival. And then, finally, she attended her first Year of Yay! ride, back when it launched from the Whole Foods Market at Easton. 

Sarah, second from left, braves the cold to park bikes at an OSU game. Photo credit: Deo Martinez

Sarah, second from left, braves the cold to park bikes at an OSU game. Photo credit: Deo Martinez

PUTTING THE PUZZLE PIECES TOGETHER: "Each ride with Yay! has helped get me a better sense of how to successfully piece together my own rides, and feel confident riding stretches of road I never would have thought possible."

Sarah liked that the Year of Yay! rides were slow and in no way competitive—she didn't feel the need to be a speed demon to keep up with the group. Plus all the other riders were so friendly that it was easy to feel safe and welcome, even when faced with roads she couldn't imagine riding otherwise...like Morse! In fact, as she eased into it, she noticed that riding in the Easton area (near where her office is located) was very different than what she expected. From the seat of a car, streets looked WAY too busy to ride safely, but from the seat of a bike they weren't really so bad after all. As the group rode new routes each month, the pieces of her commute started coming together, and she started imaging that it might be possible to ride into work. With a How We Roll ride in spring of 2017 and a few more Year of Yay! rides under her belt, she was ready to roll!

Leading February 2018's Year of Yay! ride, with a Winter Sports theme. Photo credit: Ray George

Leading February 2018's Year of Yay! ride, with a Winter Sports theme. Photo credit: Ray George

MAKING IT HAPPEN: "For a couple of months now I've been riding to work once a week, on casual Fridays, and I feel really energized when I get there."

Sarah, not known for her effusiveness, nevertheless has plenty to recommend when it comes to her riding and volunteer experiences with Yay Bikes!. She says she's met a lot of great people, gotten to know lots of cool bikes and become more intimately connected with Columbus as a result of her time with us. And it's been such an accomplishment to navigate her work commute by bike! If you want to ride but feel nervous about it, Sarah invites you to come out and give it a try with Yay Bikes!, where you'll be made to feel safe exploring the city by bike. There are lots of ways to plug in, and lots of adventures to be had on the way to freeing yourself from a car. She's done it, she says, and so can you.  

She's got a badge, she's official.

She's got a badge, she's official.

Yay Bikes! is grateful to Sarah for her solid commitment to showing up, doing the work and growing into both personal transformation and leadership. We especially appreciate her chill, her wit and her wicked smarts. Helmets off to you, friend!

And you thought she was only a bicycling badass!

And you thought she was only a bicycling badass!


To share your Yay Bikes! Journey, contact Meredith to set up a chat!

John's Yay Bikes! Journey

Yay Bikes! Journeys recount how Yay Bikes! is transforming lives and communities, from the perspective of those we’ve impacted. In this installment, we hear from John Cresencia about how Yay Bikes! has helped him and his family cultivate a rich, active social life here in Columbus. 

Baby on board! (You now have NO excuse! ;)&nbsp;Photo credit: Catherine Girves

Baby on board! (You now have NO excuse! ;) Photo credit: Catherine Girves

When you first asked me what Yay Bikes! had brought to my life, I honestly didn’t know. But now that we’re talking, my family and I have actually gotten a whole lot out of our involvement! Huh! Interesting!
— John Cresencia

MAKING CONNECTIONS: "If I ever move again the first thing I'll do is hook up with the local bike community. It's the quickest way to learn a place and make friends."

Growing up in the Asian nation of Brunei, John loved riding his bike to local beaches and nearby neighborhoods—like many kids, he found the independence and freedom it granted him intoxicating. He continued riding through childhood and university and, upon moving to Columbus in 2009, found his way to the Tuesday Night Ride series led by Ray George. And then made his way to the Year of Yay! series for its second-ever ride in February 2012. As a newbie to the city, he found that exploring by bike and meeting new people really jumpstarted his new life—with friendships he continues to enjoy to this day. (A similar thing happened, he notes, when he faced long-term travel for work to Detroit—the Slow Roll community there got him acclimated right quick.)

John chats with Nick &amp; Oulanje on an early Year of Yay! ride.&nbsp;

John chats with Nick & Oulanje on an early Year of Yay! ride. 

He's in there somewhere.&nbsp;Photo credit: Bill Ferriot

He's in there somewhere. Photo credit: Bill Ferriot

SPREADING THE JOY: "I hope it's not too cheesy of me to say, but...bicycling has brought a lot of joy to my life. And I really enjoy helping others experience the same."

As the years went on, John became a Yay Bikes! regular, riding most rides and stepping up to lead some, checking folks in at a Ride of Silence, being a Bike the Cbus jack of all trades and helping park bikes with Yay Valet!. John's wife Evy isn't always able to ride, but she also joins in whenever she can—it's just that great of a community, they say, regardless of what type of rider you are, or how "hardcore". They both love spreading the joy of bicycling in whatever ways they can. 

Speaking of which, John says, "The cool thing people may not realize about Yay Bikes! is how much it spawns so much more awesome within our bike community, where people gain confidence riding with the group and then split off from it to offer their own unique thing. I've even led a few rides myself. It's good to have a group out there that shows people the right way to lead a ride so that everyone feels safe and welcome."  

It's a family affair volunteering at the 2017 Ride of Silence.&nbsp;

It's a family affair volunteering at the 2017 Ride of Silence. 

John, with fellow Bike the Cbus volunteers.&nbsp;

John, with fellow Bike the Cbus volunteers. 

BIKING WITH BABY: "I've learned a lot from people on Yay! rides that's helped me figure out how to ride with my son."

One of the things John values most about his time with Yay Bikes! is the exposure he's had to a wide diversity of riders (most not in spandex!) and, more specifically, the breadth of expertise they're able to offer. "Getting out and riding with people is the best way to learn how to do things—ride roads, fix your bike, figure out routes, whatever. I see things and think, 'Hey, people here in Columbus, that I know, are doing this, and I think I can do it too'. It's how I figured out how to ride with my baby and make it work for both of us." He says, "If you don't know how exactly to ride, just do your best to make it to a ride and people there will take care of you."

Beating the rain at Bike the Cbus 2017.

Beating the rain at Bike the Cbus 2017.

All bundled up and oh so happy about it.&nbsp;

All bundled up and oh so happy about it. 

Yay Bikes! is grateful to John for his kindness, his easy conversation and his even easier "yes, I will!". We especially appreciate his willingness to share that darling baby with us (and all the wisdom he's gaining about riding with him). 

Helmets off to you, friend!

Yeah, we love ya!

Yeah, we love ya!


To share your Yay Bikes! Journey, contact Meredith to set up a chat!

Bertie's Yay Bikes! Journey

Yay Bikes! Journeys recount how Yay Bikes! is transforming lives and communities, from the perspective of those we’ve impacted. In this installment, we hear from Yay Bikes! board member Bertie Ford about how Yay Bikes! is helping her advance the many cycling communities she leads and enjoys.

If ever a photo captured the spirit of a person...! It's Bertie! Photo credit: Ben Ko

If ever a photo captured the spirit of a person...! It's Bertie! Photo credit: Ben Ko

Yay Bikes! is a way to connect several bicycling communities
important to me and get more people riding like I do,
for fun, fitness and camaraderie!
— Bertie Ford

FILLING A HOLE: "I was devastated when a knee injury forced me to give up running. Luckily biking was there to save me!"

Bertie Ford, an oncology nurse, has always been a cyclist, riding around her college campus, carting her son around by bike and enjoying Bike the Cbus and other trail rides. But bicycling has increasingly become a passion of hers over the past 10 years, especially since she injured her knee training for and running a marathon in 2014. When Bertie learned about the organization Black Girls Do Bike, she was quick to launch a Columbus chapter, which now boasts 266 members. She's found in bicycling an
endless source of fitness, fun and camaraderie—as well as an outlet for her natural leadership skills.

Bertie, rocking a mountain bike on the first-ever Bike the Cbus in 2008.

Bertie, rocking a mountain bike on the first-ever Bike the Cbus in 2008.

Black Girls Do Bike Columbus riding 2017's Bike the Cbus. Photo credit: Ben Ko

Black Girls Do Bike Columbus riding 2017's Bike the Cbus. Photo credit: Ben Ko

ENCOUNTERING A KINDRED SPIRIT: "Catherine is my idol. People from every cycling group in Columbus know and respect her leadership."

When Bertie met Yay Bikes! Executive Director Catherine Girves in 2015, she instantly felt bonded to her. A "Force of Nature" herself, Bertie knew a powerful woman when she met one. Over the next two years they got to know one another—Catherine joining Black Girls Do Bike rides, Bertie enjoying Year of Yay! rides, the two traveling together to the Five Boro Bike Tour in NYC—and found they shared a passion for bicycling, a worldview and even the unique experience of mixed race families. Bertie admired Catherine's tenacity, her energy, "everything about her, really!", and loved that she sees the big picture, to the benefit of the cycling community as a whole. So when Catherine invited her to consider Yay Bikes! board leadership, Bertie was all in. 

Bertie and Catherine, poised to head out with Black Girls Do Bike to the London Strawberry Festival.

Bertie and Catherine, poised to head out with Black Girls Do Bike to the London Strawberry Festival.

CONNECTING THE COMMUNITY: "I view myself as a vessel to be filled up with the wishes of my communities, so that I can help communicate them to higher levels."

Bertie is the type always compelled to go above and beyond herself for the sake of her communities. She considers herself vessel of communication and advocacy for the groups to which she belongs—Yay Bikes!, Black Girls Do Bike, Major Taylor, Steady Pedaling and CycleNuts.—and an ambassador for African American cyclists, who many people in Ohio are not accustomed to seeing. She's proud of the African American bicycle community in Columbus, which has grown exponentially in the past couple of years and would be, she says, more in line with what you'd expect from a place like Detroit or Atlanta. 

Members of Black Girls Do Bike, Major Taylors, Cycle Nuts and Yay Bikes! before chowing down during a ride to London OH.

Members of Black Girls Do Bike, Major Taylors, Cycle Nuts and Yay Bikes! before chowing down during a ride to London OH.

RAMPING UP YET AGAIN: "Joining the board of Yay Bikes! is a way for me to expand my ability to increase the number and safety of cyclists out there."

With a goal to increase the number and safety of cyclists in Central Ohio, and a leadership itch needing scratched, Bertie joined the Yay Bikes! board in August 2017. Among other things, she views board service as an opportunity to better promote and advocate for her Black Girls Do Bike chapter, and hopes to mentor new leaders within the group to expand the number of rides they offer even when she's not available to coordinate them. 

Happiness on a bike, riding with Team Buckeye during Pelotonia 2017.&nbsp;Photo credit: Darrell McGrath

Happiness on a bike, riding with Team Buckeye during Pelotonia 2017. Photo credit: Darrell McGrath

Yay Bikes! is grateful to Bertie for her enthusiasm, spunk, organizational knowledge and leadership. We especially appreciate her role as a Connector who brings people together for bike rides—and ultimately helps them accomplish so much more. 

Helmets off to you, friend!


To share your Yay Bikes! Journey, contact Meredith to set up a chat!

Bill's Yay Bikes! Journey

Yay Bikes! Journeys recount how Yay Bikes! is transforming lives and communities, from the perspective of those we’ve impacted. In this installment, we hear from Yay Bikes! Board Member Bill Ferriot about how Yay Bikes! has developed his ability to speak up for what matters to him.

The thing that has surprised me most is the social networking aspect of riding. It’s opened up more opportunities for me than anything else
I’ve been a part of!
— Bill Ferriot

WINDING HIS WAY TOWARDS YAY BIKES!: "If there is a way to ride, I've tried it. But I had no idea all the places it would end up taking me."

Road riding, mountain biking, gravel grinding, "bikepacking", BMXing, bicycle commuting, etc. Bill Ferriot has been there, biked that. "All the various subcultures within bicycling are just fascinating to me. It's always fun to see people expressing themselves through the various ways they ride." When Bill moved to Columbus, he soon fell in with some cycling friends (of course), and soon enough Ray George was among them (of course). When Ray set to work developing a bike culture here, Bill quickly went all in, designing Bike the Cbus tees, being a work horse at various events and ultimately joining the Yay Bikes! board in 2011.  

Bill, in his natural habitat.

Bill, in his natural habitat.

Switching it up for a more debonair styling on a recent Tweed Ride.

Switching it up for a more debonair styling on a recent Tweed Ride.

Rocking a flaming pink tee at a Comfest bike valet.&nbsp;

Rocking a flaming pink tee at a Comfest bike valet. 

GAINING CONFIDENCE: "I've learned through Yay Bikes! to be a powerful advocate for change that's important to me, as opposed to just mouthing off."

Bill credits his time serving Yay Bikes! with helping him become a more effective advocate, and significantly expanding his social and professional networks. As Bill became more steeped in the business of change making and "The Yay Way", he learned how government works, how street design happens, who makes decisions affecting his neighborhood and how to influence the process. He soon gained the confidence to attend community meetings about proposed West Side–area roadway improvements and speak powerfully for what he, as a cyclist, hoped to see happen. Meanwhile, his community of bicycling friends has become a constant source of fun and adventure, emotional support and opportunity. 

Happy hour advocatin'.

Happy hour advocatin'.

PAYING IT FORWARD: "I can only hope that my contribution allows people to experience the process of learning and growth I have through cycling."

Bill has made it his mission to share with the world all the good that bicycling has brought to his life. And while he may be most comfortable quietly working behind the scenes to advance the cause, anyone who's experienced a Yay Bikes! event has experienced his care and consideration. Certainly you've seen his brilliant design and photography work, which he's artfully employed to generate interest in our rides:

Bike the Cbus and Columbus Pride t-shirt designs.

Bike the Cbus and Columbus Pride t-shirt designs.

One of our most-loved, most-used images.

One of our most-loved, most-used images.

Yay Bikes! is grateful to Bill for his quiet, earnest leadership and his too-many-to-count quick "yeses". We especially appreciate his role in helping Yay Bikes! communicate the greatness of our organization and the majesty of riding bikes!

Helmets off to you, friend!


To share your Yay Bikes! Journey, contact Meredith to set up a chat!

Rahel's Yay Bikes! Journey

Yay Bikes! Journeys recount how Yay Bikes! is transforming lives and communities, from the perspective of those we’ve impacted. In this installment, we hear from Yay Bikes! Board Member Rahel Babb about how Yay Bikes! has helped Columbus feel like home.

The one, the only: Rahel!

The one, the only: Rahel!

I started riding primarily to reduce my car emissions.
I kept riding because of all the friends I’ve made and adventures
I’ve had along the way.
— Rahel Babb

RIDING FOR THE EARTH: "It's important to me that my lifestyle choices align with my personal and professional values. I started riding my bike for cleaner air."

As someone who works in the environmental field, sustainability-related concerns are paramount to Rahel Babb. And one way to pollute less is to drive less (duh). So when she began working at the Lazarus Building in Downtown Columbus, Rahel started riding to work with her colleague, Kelly, and slowly figuring out how to ride home on her own. 

Rahel's sometimes office.

Rahel's sometimes office.

Rahel, second from left, with colleagues who also participated in 2012's National Bike Challenge.&nbsp;

Rahel, second from left, with colleagues who also participated in 2012's National Bike Challenge. 

JOINING UP WITH FELLOW CYCLISTS: "After a while it seemed a natural progression to join the community of cyclists that was beginning to emerge in Columbus." 

Some time after Rahel and Kelly had mastered their daily commute they stumbled upon news of Yay Bikes!' new Year of Yay! ride series and decided to try it out. Rahel and her husband were still relatively new to town and to Rahel it seemed like a great way to get more deeply involved in the community. And then: SHAZAM! She loved it. Soon she was helping lead Year of Yay! rides when asked (and definitely not ever accidentally leading us the wrong way...cough cough...ahem... :), and eventually coordinating others to support the rides as well.

Rahel, in green, on an early Year of Yay! ride.&nbsp;

Rahel, in green, on an early Year of Yay! ride. 

VOLUNTEERING FOR ALL THE THINGS: "Volunteer for all Yay Bikes! programs helps me stay in touch with how much of a difference we're making in people's lives."  

Given all her excellent work supporting a Year of Yay!, Rahel was invited to join the Yay Bikes! board in March 2015; she was elected Secretary in 2016. Each year, Rahel commits to volunteering with every Yay Bikes! program, to stay in touch with what we offer the community and how it touches people's lives. She does it all—parks bikes; organizes, leads, sweeps and coordinates volunteers for rides; supports advocacy efforts; helps plan fundraising events; etc. Her involvement has given her countless opportunities to serve, lead and impact her community, and meet some amazing people along the way. 

Rahel, center, on the night she joined the Yay Bikes! board in March 2015.

Rahel, center, on the night she joined the Yay Bikes! board in March 2015.

Rahel, center, reviewing a map of proposed changes to Downtown Columbus' streetscape.&nbsp;

Rahel, center, reviewing a map of proposed changes to Downtown Columbus' streetscape. 

Rahel at the ready, leading April 2017's "Healthy Earth" Year of Yay! ride.

Rahel at the ready, leading April 2017's "Healthy Earth" Year of Yay! ride.

FEELING AT HOME: "I can call up any number of people in Columbus now and generate instant adventure. I love it!"

When asked what stands out to her most about the impact Yay Bikes! has had on her life, Rahel is clear it's the relationships—with solid friends and also, to a certain extent, the city she now calls home. Her bike friends are people she can call up any time for instant adventure. She's explored most of Columbus by bike—which, as we all know, makes all places seem a bit more special. She is grateful for this crazy Yay Bikes! journey of hers, and looking forward to seeing where it takes her next. 

Rockin' a purple hat, with friends, on a recent Tweed Ride.&nbsp;&nbsp;

Rockin' a purple hat, with friends, on a recent Tweed Ride.  

Yay Bikes! is grateful to Rahel for her kindness, her generosity and her thoughtful, steady leadership. We appreciate her role in supporting the hundreds of people who have learned to ride roads under her guidance.

Helmets off to you, friend!


To share your Yay Bikes! Journey, contact Meredith to set up a chat!

Duane's Yay Bikes! Journey

Yay Bikes! Journeys recount how Yay Bikes! is transforming lives and communities, from the perspective of those we’ve impacted. In this installment, we hear from Yay Bikes! Board Member Duane McCoy about how Yay Bikes! has helped him feel safe riding the streets in his neighborhood, and given him a meaningful outlet for uplifting his community. 

No matter the weather, you'll find Duane among the crew parking bikes (Duane = hero in the blue coat).&nbsp;

No matter the weather, you'll find Duane among the crew parking bikes (Duane = hero in the blue coat). 

I’m not the biggest bike guy you’ll ever meet, but I’m a big promoter of Yay Bikes! because I’ve seen for myself how our work has made my neighborhood a better place. Also, the people are great!
— Duane McCoy

A HAPPY ACCIDENT: "I didn't know a thing about Yay Bikes! when I signed up for a volunteer shift at the Comfest bike corral." 

Duane McCoy's passions are volunteerism and community. With a personal goal to devote at least 10 hours a month to giving back, he is always looking for new ways to help. And so, one year for Comfest, he randomly picked a gig that seemed fun: volunteering in their newfangled bike corral. He claims to have fallen in love immediately with Catherine (as in Girves, current Yay Bikes! Executive Director), who was running the show at that time. "She's awesome at cultivating followers," he said. Indeed, he's followed her for almost 9 years since...

Where it all began: the Comfest bike corral.&nbsp;

Where it all began: the Comfest bike corral. 

Best buds Duane, Stinger and Catherine (Girves) at a Bike to Work Day event. Photo credit: Bryan Barr

Best buds Duane, Stinger and Catherine (Girves) at a Bike to Work Day event. Photo credit: Bryan Barr

ASSUMING LEADERSHIP: "I was really looking for a way to take my passion for volunteering and community to a new level."

Many shifts in the bike corral later, and Duane had graduated from the United Way of Central Ohio's Pride Leadership program, which prepares LGBT community members for board leadership. Catherine had recently assumed the role of Yay Bikes! Executive Director, and set to snatching him up before other organizations had a chance. Duane joined the Yay Bikes! board in May of 2014 and, though he won't quite admit it, has since become a powerful advocate for bicycling, both in Columbus and Grange Insurance, where he works in operations.

With former Columbus Mayor Michael "Bikin' Mike" Coleman, promoting bicycling alongside several Grange colleagues.

With former Columbus Mayor Michael "Bikin' Mike" Coleman, promoting bicycling alongside several Grange colleagues.

Riding with his colleagues to lunch on a Yay Bikes! Ride Buddy ride.&nbsp;

Riding with his colleagues to lunch on a Yay Bikes! Ride Buddy ride. 

Duane (blue hoodie, left) and his husband, Mike, at the Columbus Ride of Silence.

Duane (blue hoodie, left) and his husband, Mike, at the Columbus Ride of Silence.

SAFER TRAVELS: "My neighbors love, love, LOVE the new bike lanes on Summit and Fourth Streets—as do Mike & I. We haven't had to use a trail to get around in ages!"

Duane still doesn't consider himself a big-time cyclist-type, but he appreciates how Yay Bikes!' education and advocacy efforts have improved his experience of traveling in his neighborhood. When he does ride, he feels far more peaceful than he used to—the new bike lanes near his house help him feel protected, motorists seem more aware of cyclists, bicyclists have become more predictable. There is much less chaos on the roads than there used to be, he says. "We have such a fun, vibrant, kind bicycle community here, and it's making a real difference for people—even people like myself, who aren't that hardcore. I feel fortunate that Yay Bikes! provides me so many opportunities to make my neighborhood, my workplace and my city even more fantastic than they already are."

Duane pores over a map of the proposed (now installed!) bicycle infrastructure on Summit &amp; Fourth Streets, near his Italian Village home.&nbsp;

Duane pores over a map of the proposed (now installed!) bicycle infrastructure on Summit & Fourth Streets, near his Italian Village home. 

Yay Bikes! is grateful to Duane for his spirit of giving, his integrity and his good humor. We appreciate his willingness to step up no matter the task—advocacy, bike parking, tabling events, board leadership and more—and bring his lovely husband, Mike, along for the ride. What a lucky 'twofer' for us! 

Helmets off to you, friends!


To share your Yay Bikes! Journey, contact Meredith to set up a chat!

Gloria's Yay Bikes! journey

Yay Bikes! Journeys recount how Yay Bikes! is transforming lives and communities, from the perspective of those we’ve impacted. In this installment, we hear from Gloria Hendricks about how Yay Bikes! has profoundly affected her family's life. 

The Hendricks clan is a biking clan.

The Hendricks clan is a biking clan.

Our family has explored many places and had many adventures on our bikes, and what’s especially meaningful about that to me and Rob, as parents, has been connecting with our kids during those rides without screens occupying all their attention. We feel very lucky that Yay Bikes! was there to support us as we became a family that bikes—everywhere!
— Gloria Hendricks

FEELING AFRAID: "I said, 'You put my babies on THE ROAD...in snow and ice?!'"

On a wintery January morning in 2012, Gloria Hendricks went to work, and her husband, Rob, took their kids on a bike ride (in fact, the very first Year of Yay! ride ever!). On the road. In snow and ice. Rob called later, when they were home safe and sound, detailing their adventure. "So that was my first reality to Yay Bikes!. I’ll never forget that" she said, chuckling. The family was extremely new to bicycling at that point, with Rob just having taken it up after knee surgeries prevented him from running. But Gloria didn't yet own a bike, and she hadn't ridden since she was a kid. And she was very, very clear that she didn't want to start up again now—especially with her boys being out there on the road.

Gloria's youngest on his first Year of Yay! ride (Jan 2012).&nbsp;

Gloria's youngest on his first Year of Yay! ride (Jan 2012). 

Gloria's oldest (lower left) rode his own bike on super slushly streets during his first Year of Yay! ride.

Gloria's oldest (lower left) rode his own bike on super slushly streets during his first Year of Yay! ride.

JOINING THE GANG: "Mom, I think you'll really like it!"

For Valentine's Day that year, Rob bought Gloria a bicycle, and she took her first ride since earning a driver's license in high school. But the bike was a tank and not so much fun, so they traded it for a new one that was lighter and faster. Which was super, except that she was left without an excuse to beg off rides! With her boys badgering her and Rob pressuring her to join the family during her limited time off work, she agreed to attend her first Year of Yay! ride in March of 2012. As she rode on the road, she remembers thinking "Oh, this is not right!" and being scared out of her mind. But she bravely returned for April's ride...during which her oldest fell and injured his arm while he was riding far in front of her. As she caught up to him, she saw several fellow riders around him and felt...calm; he was safe, because everyone had his back. Regardless of where they fell in the pack, she realized, they were never alone. 

Gloria joined a Year of Yay! ride in March, two months after the rest of her family.&nbsp;

Gloria joined a Year of Yay! ride in March, two months after the rest of her family. 

Obviously, she got the hang of it!

Obviously, she got the hang of it!

FACING TRAGEDY: "I didn't really start to enjoy riding until Rob's accident—is that weird?"

In October of 2012, a driver who was texting at the time rear-ended Rob as he was riding to work. He very nearly died (saved by his helmet and sheer luck!), but he was especially sad not to have made his goal of riding 4,000 miles that year. So Gloria got to thinking—what can I do for him? "I took over riding," she said. "I took over riding for him so he could make his 4,000 miles. That's what started it. It made me more independent to ride on the road by myself, it made realize I could do things." People thought she might quit riding after the crash—and she did too—but she just couldn't let fear dominate their lives, or have her kids see them giving up. Everything has risk, she figured, and this was one worth taking. Her family's bicycle adventures had become more than just rides. Yay Bikes! was introducing them to fascinating parts of Columbus, plus surrounding her kids with good role models and developing their characters through conversation and volunteerism. It was too good a thing to let go of. 

The car that rear-ended her husband.&nbsp;

The car that rear-ended her husband. 

Gloria's boys visit their dad in the hospital on Halloween, just a couple of weeks after his crash.&nbsp;

Gloria's boys visit their dad in the hospital on Halloween, just a couple of weeks after his crash. 

GOING ALL IN: "Biking is very peaceful; it shuts your mind down in certain ways. It makes you think about what's important to you."

Five years into her now-lifelong bicycling adventure, Gloria isn't necessarily proud of how many bikes she has, but hey! They each do different things! Gloria is a commuter cyclist, goes mountain biking, races (slowly, but it counts!), vacations and camps by bike and does a 100-mile ride on each anniversary of Rob's accident. She is officially all in! Gloria credits Yay Bikes! with helping her gain independence and self confidence, and connecting her with people who have become like family to her, both on the bike and off.

Gloria on her 100-mile ride, to commemorate the 1-year anniversary of Rob's crash.

Gloria on her 100-mile ride, to commemorate the 1-year anniversary of Rob's crash.

Gloria and Rob, riding together, forever. &lt;3

Gloria and Rob, riding together, forever. <3

Yay Bikes! is grateful to Gloria for her spunk, her sense of humor, her perseverance and her extreme dedication to family. We appreciate the hours she has devoted to volunteering with us, and all the joy and hardship she has shared with us over the years. 

Helmets off to you, friend!


To share your Yay Bikes! Journey, contact Meredith to set up a chat!

Nick's Yay Bikes! journey

Yay Bikes! Journeys recount how Yay Bikes! is transforming lives and communities, from the perspective of those we’ve impacted. In this installment, we hear from Nick Tepe, Director of Athens County Public Libraries, about how Yay Bikes! has enriched his life and made his community of Nelsonville more bicycle friendly. 

Nick rides Ohio

Nick rides Ohio

We’ve really been able to move the needle on cycling awareness in not just Franklin County anymore, but the entire state. The people who are making decisions about how we can be safe and have fun riding our bikes on the road are actually paying attention to us now, and it is 100% because of this organization. Which is why I am proud to continue to support Yay Bikes!, even though I no longer live in Columbus.
— Nick Tepe

RIDING SOLO: “That’s just what I do, I ride my bike to where I want to go.”

Nick has, for as long as he can remember, ridden his bike to get where he wants to go. Thanks to the gift of 70s-era parents, he even rode his bike several miles to get to his elementary school! So it was a no brainer that he took his bike to college in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and then grad school at OSU. And when he got his first library job at the Columbus Metropolitan Library, of course he’d ride his bike to work. “For me,” he says, it was no big deal—that’s just what I do, I ride my bike to where I want to go.”

Nick, on one of his early big boy bikes.&nbsp;

Nick, on one of his early big boy bikes. 

FINDING COMMUNITY: “This is great! Yay Bikes! is connecting me to a whole new network of friends and activity.”

The first contact Nick had with Yay Bikes! was the Bike to Work Challenge in 2009. And what struck him about it most was the approach of getting people not just to ride their bikes to work, but also to have fun doing it. Nick’s CML team did have fun—so much so that they ended up winning their category that year and growing their team each year thereafter. Then, when Yay Bikes! announced the Year of Yay! rides in 2012, Nick had just gotten divorced and was looking for ways to get himself out there, keep active, meet new people and take his mind off what he was going through. So he came out for the St. Patty’s Day Parade ride (Year of Yay! 12.3, March 2012), had such a blast that he decided he was going to do the rest of them, which he did. About which he remembers thinking, “This is great! Yay Bikes! is connecting me to a whole new network of friends and activity, and the organization is doing a lot of good, too.”

The first known photo of Nick in his new Yay Bikes! milieu, during a post-ride trip to Hal &amp; Al's in March &nbsp;2012.&nbsp;

The first known photo of Nick in his new Yay Bikes! milieu, during a post-ride trip to Hal & Al's in March  2012. 

Rockin' the Year of Yay! 2012 button series.

Rockin' the Year of Yay! 2012 button series.

Ringing the bells of Trinity Episcopal on the Year of Yay! ride he led to various places of worship.&nbsp;

Ringing the bells of Trinity Episcopal on the Year of Yay! ride he led to various places of worship. 

SEEING RESULTS: “I think [Yay Bikes! Executive Director] Catherine Girves is a bike infrastructure fairy. She visits a town and magically bike infrastructure appears.”

Nick was driving to work shortly after Yay Bikes! led his Nelsonville’s City Manager and a City Council Member on a Professional Development Ride and saw, to his great surprise, sharrows on the road leading from the bike path to the Nelsonville Public Library. He notes with excitement that it’s been great for his patrons, who can now rent a bike for free from the library’s established “Book a Bike” program and use sharrows to make their way safely to the trail for a ride. And he credits “The Yay Way!” with making the difference: “I don’t think that Yay Bikes! would have been as successful as we’ve been with advocacy if we hadn’t done that initial front-end work of making bicycling a fun activity for people, making it something that anybody can do, by making people feel comfortable, by hosting rides that have both more and less experienced riders, on and on and on.“ 

Downtown Nelsonville received sharrows just days after Yay Bikes! led a Professional Development Ride there

Downtown Nelsonville received sharrows just days after Yay Bikes! led a Professional Development Ride there

FEELING PRIDE: “I have just been more and more blown away by everything that we’re pulling off with this group.”

“It’s a credit to Yay Bikes! that people around the state have become aware of the work Yay Bikes! is doing and are reaching out to us as experts on how to improve cycling for everybody in their communities. We’ve really been able to move the needle on cycling awareness in not just Franklin County anymore, but the entire state. The people who are making decisions about how we can be safe and have fun riding our bikes on the road, are actually paying attention to us now, and it is 100% because of this organization. Which is why I am proud to continue to support Yay Bikes!, even though I no longer live in Columbus!”

Party on, Nick!&nbsp;

Party on, Nick! 

Yay Bikes! is grateful to Nick for his joyful presence, his deep knowledge of all things bike (and every other topic under the sun—yay librarians!) and the innumerable ways he has helped his friends, colleagues and community members achieve happiness and health through bicycling. We look forward to riding with him again soon on a Year of Yay!, when baby Piper is finally ready to rock that trailer. Helmets off to you, friend!


To share your Yay Bikes! Journey, contact Meredith to set up a chat!

Bike the Cbus and me

Mr. Brian Jackson, in action!

Mr. Brian Jackson, in action!

I had been biking a couple of months just to work, which was about 3 miles. Aside from that I didn’t bike in the road. I would ride the bike paths on the weekend to get longer rides. I saw the Bike the Cbus signs on my commute from Olde Towne and convinced my friend that we should ride it.

Bike the Cbus went through every Columbus neighborhood that I want to hang out in in a single day. It made me realize that all the places I want to visit are safely reachable via bicycle.

Bike the Cbus was the tipping point between weekend bike path rider and treating my bike as a legitimate form of transportation.
— Brian Jackson, Yay Bikes! member and Bike the Cbus veteran

Do you have a story to share about why you ride Bike the Cbus or its impact on your life? Send it to Catherine Girves at catherine@yaybikes.com!

“I was starting to feel like superwoman.” - Shyra's Story

Despite being a little intimidated by what she perceived as the biking culture, Shyra jumped into bicycling and is passionate about sharing her enthusiasm with others.

Despite being a little intimidated by what she perceived as the biking culture, Shyra jumped into bicycling and is passionate about sharing her enthusiasm with others.

Name: Shyra Holden-Allen
Lives in: Columbus, East Side
Works in: Downtown Columbus

“The ride hooked me!”

In 2014, Shyra rode Bike the Cbus with her husband. They pedaled throughout the city, eventually jumping off the route a little early because the weather was scorching. As they walked their bikes to their cars, a man – then Yay Bikes! Board President Ray George - ran after them. He wanted to know whether they enjoyed the ride and if they had any feedback. “I thought it was so cool he considered our feelings,” Shyra said.

Not knowing the organization behind Bike the Cbus, Shyra scoped out her swag bag finding a brochure for Yay Bikes! After that ride, Shyra was enamored with both bicycling and Yay Bikes! Though she was a little worried about being accepted, she decided to check out a Year of Yay! ride.

“I remember thinking, I’m just jumping into this and I’m not an athlete. I was worried that I wasn’t the rider I felt I needed to be to ride the roads.” Shyra said. “But, the ride hooked me. It was so exhilarating!”

“After that first ride, I couldn’t wait for the next one.”

Soon after her first Year of Yay! experience, Shyra became a regular at the monthly rides. She loved exploring the city by bike and the different approach ride leaders take to highlight different areas and businesses around Columbus. “It’s exciting to see what they come up with!” Shyra said.

Year of Yay! leaders are hand selected individuals whose passion and enthusiasm for riding has caught the eye of Yay Bikes! leadership. From their own imagination, they create the themes, routes and stops on our monthly bike rides. A few months after her first Year of Yay!, Shyra was invited to lead a ride of her own.

While she was nervous, she was inspired by the confidence Yay Bikes! leadership had in her. “I became a cheerleader! I just kept getting called back to support Yay Bikes!” Shyra said.

“I was starting to feel like superwoman.”

Quickly, Shyra became immersed in; not only the Yay Bikes! community, but also Columbus biking community. As she learned more, her confidence skyrocketed and she felt inspired to begin commuting to-and-from work by bike. For three weeks she rode the 7+ miles from her home on Columbus’ East Side to Downtown. “I was starting to feel like superwoman,” Shyra said.

Then one-day bad weather struck. It was raining, pouring actually, as Shyra rode home at dusk. Untethered, Shyra was committed to get all the way home on her bike. But her concerned husband showed up in the car halfway through her commute home and pleaded her to load up her bike and take the ride home.

This sentiment was shared by her concerned father who Shyra later recalled the incident to. She and her father are close and he is very supportive of Shyra’s passion for biking. In fact, her father was the one to teach Shyra to ride a bike. One of seven children in her family, Shyra was the last to learn to ride a bike. She was eight-years-old and already her younger brother was pedaling up and down the streets of their neighborhood. “I remember my dad being behind me and I told him to let go. After getting the courage to look back, I realized he had let go about three blocks prior.”

Despite his desire to see Shyra happy doing this thing she loves, her father begged Shyra to only commute by bike in the daylight and when the weather is good. Very reluctantly, Shyra made the commitment to PAUSE her solo winter commuting. “But I miss feeling like Superwoman.” Shyra looks forward to the return of longer daylight hours when she will start commuting to work by bike again, and is determined to figure out how to address her husband and father's fear about her safety before next winter.

 “What I really want is to see more bikes on the street!”

Shyra talks to friends, family, neighbors and even strangers about the about the rules of the road and ease of getting place to place on a bike. She invites new people to ride with Yay Bikes! regularly, going as far to travel door-to-door through her neighborhood to do so. On another occasion, she struck up conversation with strangers out to lunch. “My husband and I were at Easton and I saw some people with bikes sitting on a patio at a restaurant so I marched right up to tell them about Year of Yay!” she said. “My husband said I was scaring people!”

“What I really want is to see more bikes on the street!” Shyra said. While she eagerly awaits the end of daylight savings time and the return to her regular bike commute, Shyra will continue to share her passion and knowledge with everyone she comes across as she pedals throughout Columbus.

 

 

 

Emily's Yay Bikes! Journey

Posted 1/26/16 by Tiffany Dixon, updated 5/22/17 by Meredith Reed


Yay Bikes! Journeys recount how Yay Bikes! is transforming lives and communities, from the perspective of those we’ve impacted. In this installment, we hear from board chair Emily Monnig about how Yay Bikes! is providing a way for her to create a better future for her daughter. 

Emily riding with her young daughter.

Emily riding with her young daughter.

“Yay Bikes! is working so comfortably to influence infrastructure because we are so good at fostering relationships. We’re having success because we’re not fighting and battling, we’re working with people.”
— Emily Monnig

CRUISING WITH BIKE NERDS: “Biking is in my bones. My grandparents were total bike nerds back in the day!”

Biking is in Emily’s bones. Her grandparents, graduates of The Ohio State University, were what Emily calls “bike nerds". In the 1930s and 40s they cruised up and down High Street, and all around the Columbus of their day. Growing up in Northeast Ohio, Emily remembers when her grandparents would visit, load bikes and all the grandkids into the car and take the whole family to explore nearby trails. Their love of life on two wheels was infectious, and eventually their grandchildren caught on.

When Emily moved to Flagstaff, AZ, she met her future husband, Dan, at a bike shop he co-owned. Soon after meeting, the pair were looking for a change and settled on a move to Denver for its walkability, bikeability and liveability. “I just like to live in places where I can walk or bike,” Emily said. Their plan was to start a business. But just weeks before their scheduled move, Dan and Emily found themselves in Columbus, where they had family nearby. And their plans changed.

Emily's grandmother (pictured) and grandfather influenced her early passion for biking.

Emily's grandmother (pictured) and grandfather influenced her early passion for biking.

SETTING UP SHOP: “I had visited other cities and knew it was possible to get people commuting by bike.”

Having traveled from city to city experiencing various bike cultures first-hand, Emily knew the possibilities for a bike friendly community. “I had visited other cities and knew it was possible to get people commuting by bike,” Emily said. She understood the benefits biking could bring to the people who live within a city, its businesses and community at large. She and Dan wanted just that for the place they decided to grow their roots, the place they called home: Columbus!

In 2008, Emily and Dan opened their commuting-only bike shop on High Street...right before the economy tanked. The business in which they had invested their hopes and dreams was no longer sustainable. If they wanted to succeed, their whole approach had to change. So, they focused on serving the urban commuter, and helping foster a new community of transportation cyclists here.

Emily helps organize many bike events

Emily helps organize many bike events

COMBINING FORCES: “Being involved with Yay Bikes! is an extension of everything I do. It completes it.”

Over the years, Emily firmly believes that Paradise Garage has thrived through giving back to Columbus’ bike community. The shop started small by hosting community rides. Eventually they began hosting bike themed art exhibits, sponsoring film screenings and getting more involved in advocacy. In 2011, Emily joined the Yay Bikes! Board of Directors; in 2016 she became its Chair.

“I joined the board because it was like, 'I have a passion, you have a passion, let’s get together and see where it goes',” Emily said. “I liked that there was thought and intention behind the organization. Change had to happen because there was a balance between teaching people to use bikes and teaching our community how to embrace bikes.” 

Emily and Dan (right) at the first Year of Yay! ride in 2012. Photo credit: Bill Ferriot

Emily and Dan (right) at the first Year of Yay! ride in 2012. Photo credit: Bill Ferriot

The whole fam, storefront at Paradise Garage. Photo credit: Barb Seckler

The whole fam, storefront at Paradise Garage. Photo credit: Barb Seckler

WITNESSING CHANGE: “I grew up where bikes were strictly recreational, but my daughter will grow up in a different era, where we ride on roads for transportation!”

Emily has been excited to continue supporting transformational experiences for people who ride in Columbus. One development—the protected bike lanes Yay Bikes! helped facilitate on 4th and Summit—is particularly thrilling for Emily. Now she and Dan, with toddler in tow, can easily and safely commute from their home in Clintonville to their shop in the Short North. In her leadership role, Emily plans to continue developing Yay Bike!' strengths to deepen relationships and evolve Columbus’ bike infrastructure. “It’s a great thing to be in the middle of Columbus and to see the evolution of cycling here,” she says. "These are exciting times for our city, and our organization!"

emily.jpg

Yay Bikes! is grateful to Emily for her wicked smarts, her steady leadership, her thoughtfulness and generosity. We appreciate her vast and often unsung contribution to the Columbus bike scene, and for her contribution to building a sustainable bicycle advocacy organization through service to Yay Bikes!

Helmets off to you, friend!


To share your Yay Bikes! Journey, contact Meredith to set up a chat!

Ray's Yay Bikes! Journey

Posted by Tiffany Dixon 12/21/15, updated 4/26/17 by Meredith Reed


Yay Bikes! Journeys recount how Yay Bikes! is transforming lives and communities, from the perspective of those we’ve impacted. In this installment, we hear from board member Ray George about how his leadership with Yay Bikes! has changed the city he moved to and fell in love with 10 years ago. 

Ray served Yay Bikes! as Board Chair for several years.

Ray served Yay Bikes! as Board Chair for several years.

Yay Bikes! is pulling together the public-at-large, private business and government, to create a safer environment for cycling in Columbus. And doing it in a way that other cities should really be learning from.
— Ray George

MOVING TO COLUMBUS: “I had never ridden in a city, so it was completely magical.”

In 2007, Ray moved to Columbus from West Virginia for his wife to attend law school here. “She was in school so I had a lot of time on my hands…a lot of time.” To pass it, he befriended a group of retirees who happened to be avid cyclists, and they helped Ray overcome the fear he'd had since a bad crash at age 17. He eventually found himself alongside dozens of fellow riders in Downtown Columbus near midnight on a Monday Night Ride. The streets were empty, nearly silent as the group of rowdy riders breezed past old, abandoned buildings under the night sky. Ray was captivated; he was in love. 

FILLING GAPS: You don’t see the whole city unless you’re on a bike.”

As Ray became more involved with the local bicycling community, and began to explore regionally as well, he noticed that Columbus was lacking some things that made other cities' bike scenes sizzle—a citywide ride, for one, and a powerful bicycle advocacy group for another. Ultimately, he stepped up to do something about both. 

Bike the Cbus was born out of Ray’s desire to get people out on bikes so they could really experience Columbus. “Every time you get on a bike, it’s an adventure. You don’t see the whole city unless you’re on a bike.” Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2017, Bike the Cbus introduces hundreds of riders each year to Columbus' unique and evolving inner-ring neighborhoods. 

After working together on Bike the Cbus and several other initiatives, Yay Bikes! founder Meredith Joy invited Ray to join the organization's board in 2011. His natural leadership tendencies soon got him elected as Chair, a position he held through 2015. “I felt it was something I could do to help change for the positive,” he said of the experience. “Whether it’s for their health, the environment or something else, biking can be the answer. I see bicycling as the lowest hanging fruit to get people out of the car.” .

Meredith Joy with Ray at the first-ever Year of Yay! ride in January 2012.

Meredith Joy with Ray at the first-ever Year of Yay! ride in January 2012.

A rare photo of Ray heading up the first-ever Bike the Cbus in 2008.

A rare photo of Ray heading up the first-ever Bike the Cbus in 2008.

LEAVING A LEGACY: “Leading in this organization has shown me that small groups of people can make big change.”

Although others will say Ray is a natural leader, he sees himself as the creator of tools to help others create their own experiences, and always defers to the magic of the group effort. “I think my attitude has been to support programs or events that help change behavior,” he says. "I just want the organization to succeed." By all measures, it has, thanks in no small part to Ray's contribution (see more about that, below)!

Bike the Cbus 2016

Bike the Cbus 2016

Ride the Elevator 2016

Ride the Elevator 2016

A note from our Executive Director, upon Ray's resignation as Board Chair in December 2015:

It’s no coincidence that the ascendancy of Central Ohio’s Golden Age of Bicycling (in my estimation: right now, into infinity) coincides with Ray George’s move to Columbus 8 years ago. Because regardless Ray’s insistence on remaining behind the scenes, and the fact that most people don’t realize it: all of us in Central Ohio’s cycling community owe a debt of gratitude to this man. If you’re not yet inaugurated into the Cult of Ray, well pay your dues; read up on Columbus Rides Bikes; check out Tuesday Night Rides, a gravel grinder or bike camping trip; and get with it. I mean, can you imagine? Columbus didn't have a citywide bicycle ride before Ray! And because that’s just who he is, he rolled up his sleeves, got to work and made Bike the Cbus happen. 

Then there’s the whole matter of Yay Bikes!, an organization that went from nothing to our region’s premier bicycle advocacy organization in just a few short years. Under Ray's leadership, Yay Bikes!:

  • Launched a membership program that, 3 years later, boasted more than 850 members
  • Hired 5 staff members and tripled our budget
  • Brought Bike the Cbus into the fold, started Year of Yay! and created Ride the Elevator
  • Prioritized the communications strategy that helped position us as the region’s thought leader
  • Positioned the Board for its next transition in composition and leadership

But it is, as they say, the end of an era: after 4+ years as Board Chair, Ray George led his last Yay Bikes! board meeting last night.  

We’d be devastated, of course, except that he’s agreed to stick around for a bit to serve as Immediate Past Chair on our Executive Committee, and he’ll carry on with leadership of Bike the Cbus, Ride the Elevator and other fun bike rides he will no doubt soon be dreaming up.  

So things have changed, as they do, but some will stay the same. That’s right—you’ll find the two of us most Thursday mornings at Upper Cup Coffee from 7–9am just like always, dreamin' and schemin' and plottin' world domination. Come say hi!


To share your Yay Bikes! Journey, contact Meredith to set up a chat!

"It's all new for me this year, everyday biking." - Will's Story

Will with his wife, Diana, and daughter, Avril, explore Columbus by bike whenever weather permits.
Will with his wife, Diana, and daughter, Avril, explore Columbus by bike whenever weather permits.

Name: Will Koehler
Lives in: Clintonville
Works in: Clintonville

“My interest was piqued.”

Will’s love affair with bikes and biking started early. He’s been riding since he was 8-years-old, or 10, he can’t quite remember. His Dad got Will and his friends out on bikes at an early age. Together they pedaled the one-lane country roads near their home in Oxford, Ohio. Quickly, Will was enamored. He joined a bike club and became a regular recreational cyclist.

When he relocated to Columbus in 1986 Will found himself cycling the “big city” recreationally on his way out to less populated country roads. It was a client who lived in Connecticut who helped Will see bicycling a little differently. During a visit to Connecticut, Will’s client invited him to travel in to work by bike. The 30-mile commute served as training ride for upcoming bicycle races and was a better option to driving through rush hour. What was a long, congested commute by car became a scenic morning bike ride. During this trip “I realized that biking could be transportation,” Will said.

Will’s revelation left him inspired. For years he continued to ride recreationally, but started mixing recreational bike rides with occasional 12-mile commutes to work. Then, about seven years ago, Will was left without a car to get around. Building on his foundation of recreational riding and occasional commuting, Will started biking as his main source of transportation.

Hungry to learn how Columbus could make traveling by bike an option for more people, he started digging into blogs, articles, books, news, anything that could help him teach him how cities can make the roads safer. “I knew about Yay Bikes! for years. It wasn’t until the engineer rides came along that my interest was piqued.”

“I watched them begin to see things differently.”

In October 2014, Will met Yay Bikes! Executive Director, Catherine Girves. During their conversation, Catherine mentioned an upcoming bike ride with engineers from the City of Columbus. A firm believer that better road infrastructure is the key to change the way people travel, Will was excited. “I didn’t invite myself on that ride which is what I really wanted.” Luckily, Catherine saw Will’s passion and knowledge. She invited him to ride with Yay Bikes! and the engineers.

Catherine and Will showed up with bike lights and the attitude to foster a productive relationship with city engineers. “It was a great opportunity to get our voices heard and to be in front of people who can change the way our roads are designed,” Will said. For the first time the engineers experienced the road from a bicyclist’s perspective on downtown streets during rush hour.

“I watched them begin to see things differently.” This shifted Will’s perspective even more and opened up the possibilities of biking in Columbus, especially as improvements to Columbus’ bike infrastructure were made.

“It’s everyday biking.”

He still trains and rides with old teammates, but Will is learning bit by bit that biking is actually simpler than he realized. “There’s no need for fancy equipment or special clothes – slowly I’m letting go of all this baggage and the perception that biking needs to be complicated and athletic. I’m learning that a bike is a simple tool you can use in your daily life.” Will said. “Taking it to the core essence, biking is as easy as walking, only faster.”

Just in the past few years, Will’s lengthy recreational rides on country roads have morphed into weekend family excursions. “It’s all new for me this year, everyday biking.” Will and his family use bikes not only for daily transportation, but also as a way to explore the city.

On Sunday’s, Will, his wife and young daughter load up on their bikes and travel throughout the city. “As long as weather permits, we’re going to be on a bike. We can get all over Columbus pretty easily,” Will said. With help from Yay Bikes! and city-wide infrastructure improvements Will sees riding the streets of Columbus differently. He’s learned favorite routes for travel, but he and his family have also found a new kind of adventure.

Will sees this shift nationwide. People are moving away from the notion that clothes, shoes, a certain kind of bike, or specific routes are requirements to biking. Will thinks – and hopes – this trend will continue as more people start to adopt everyday biking into their lives.

“Yay Bikes! gave us a whole new perspective.”

City of Columbus Department of Public Service Engineers:

  • Bud Braughton, Downtown and Special Projects, Division of Design and Construction
  • Daniel Moorhead, Division of Infrastructure Management
  • Steve Wasosky, Design Section Manager, Division of Design and Construction
  • Richard Ortman, Project Manager and Bridge Engineer, Division of Design and Construction (NOT PICTURED)

“How can we continue to improve and take the next step to make Columbus one of the top biking cities in the nation?” 

Under Mayor Michael B. Coleman’s leadership, the Columbus Department of Public Service in October 2014 escalated its commitment to supporting bicyclists and enhancing the city’s bike infrastructure. At that time, Public Service Director Tracie Davies reached out to Yay Bikes! for a meeting with City staff. With maps of the city splayed over their tables, they asked us “How can we improve and take the next step in making Columbus one of the top biking cities in the nation? They wanted feedback from real, everyday bicyclists. Our response: let’s ride!

“I need to experience it.”

A few weeks after that meeting, engineers Bud Braughton, Richard Ortman, and Daniel Moorhead, each with a different infrastructure specialization—downtown and Ohio Department of Transportation projects, bridges, and bikes respectively—found themselves riding the roads with representatives from Yay Bikes!.  “I want to use good engineering judgment and keep it safe for everyone, so I need to be back on a bike and experience it,” Bud said.

Each engineer had his own previous experience with bicycling. Bud hadn’t ridden much since his teenage years when he cruised through his neighborhood on the west side before gaining his driver’s license and “freedom.” Richard biked sometimes for recreation and even to work on occasion, using the Olentangy bike path. Daniel was a seasoned bicyclist, having picked it up when he was hired by the Department of Public Service as a bike transportation engineer.

Despite different levels of comfort and experience, most of the engineers were apprehensive of this approach. None of them expected the results that came out of the initial ride. They each vividly recall that first experience riding with Yay Bikes!.

“Because I like to ride on bike paths, I typically would not ride alone on downtown streets,” says Richard. “I had some trepidation, but I never turn down a learning opportunity.”

“Yay Bikes! gave us a whole new perspective.”

“It was a lot different than we expected,” Bud said. “As engineers, we’re focused on making it work, but Yay Bikes! gave us input from a customer perspective.” This feedback has helped the engineers and their team grow in their understanding of needs for bike infrastructure and how it related to the details of their ongoing projects.

“It was nice to have Yay Bikes! share their concerns, which factor into our decisions,” Bud said. The collaboration yielded a first for Columbus. “One of those decisions was to add protected bike lanes to our roads,” Richard said. “You’ve [Yay Bikes!] enhanced our previous understanding of the danger of a door zone and the need for a buffer,” Richard added. “It’s good to see what works well in Columbus.”

“Biking is important.”

The success from their relationship with Yay Bikes! has translated to a more collaborative working environment and a bike-centric office culture. “This is the next step in the evolution of meeting Mayor’s goal of making this one of the top biking cities in the nation,” Daniel said. “The department and Yay Bikes! are part of a culture shift in Columbus. It’s really refreshing.”

The engineers now ride city streets at least monthly to check in on their projects. Representatives from the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department and the Columbus Public Health Department often join them to offer input on projects in the planning phase. And each has incorporated more bike trips into their non-work lives as well. “We just want our projects to be the best they can be for all users,” Bud said.

Looking to the future: bike design involvement is growing

You can see the evolution, the culture shift, all around Columbus. Since the City implemented its Bikeways Plan in 2008, investments in bicycle infrastructure have blossomed. The City has installed 34 miles of bike lanes, 2,400 sharrows on 60 miles of streets, constructed 11.6 miles of shared use paths, installed 320 Share the Road signs, 460 bike racks and 23 queue boxes. The City has also introduced the CoGo bike share program, with 390 bikes at 41 bicycle stations across the city.

In an effort to accelerate the addition of bike facilities and their delivery time, the Department of Public Service Design Section has begun generating plans for new bike facilities in-house. This allows for ideas to be implemented much more quickly and provides better oversight of consistent standards being used throughout the City.  It is an exciting time.  On-street bike facilities are an evolving part of roadway design, and new ideas are being implemented in Columbus and across the country. That’s why it is critical to make these facilities safe and understandable to all right of way users. Department of Public Service Design Section Manager Steve Wasosky joined the Engineer rides in the Spring of 2015. 

“Riding these locations has been an essential tool to see conflicts and concerns that may not have been noticed when looking at only a two-dimensional plan view on paper,” Steve said. “Most of us already have a perspective on driving the roadway and the many concerns, but having the biking perspective on the same corridors dramatically helps the design provide a safer more user friendly ride,” Steve said.

"The culture of biking is changing in Ohio..." - Michelle's story

Name: Michelle May
Lives in:
Clintonville
Works in:
Columbus - West Side at Ohio Department of Transportation

Michelle credits the changing landscape for bicycling to strong ties between advocates and city officials.
Michelle credits the changing landscape for bicycling to strong ties between advocates and city officials.

“We were much more focused because they demanded it."

Led by ODOT’s Highway Safety Manager, Michelle May, a group of transportation engineers, roadway designers and safety professionals from ODOT spent three hours riding city roads with Yay Bikes! on a gorgeous July afternoon earlier this year. “I credit those focused on biking and walking. We are much more focused because people are demanding it,” Michelle said.

“I learned so much that day.”

The ride was transformative. “It’s been completely eye opening,” Michelle said. The group travelled a route that was deliberately designed to showcase a variety of bike traffic scenarios including those with great bike infrastructure, those with challenging bike infrastructure and those with well-intentioned bike infrastructure that just doesn’t work well for many bicyclists. “I learned so much that day,” Michelle said. “But more importantly, the folks who designed our roadways learned so much.”

Specifically, Michelle and team were able to identify potential safety issues by experiencing them on a bike rather than seeing them on paper. “I learned the value of riding with folks who do it every day” Michelle said. “It allows us to take what we learn and translate it into making roads safer.”

“There’s no substitute for seeing things for yourself.”

While she isn’t a regular bicyclist, Michelle considers herself a bike supporter. Her initial hesitation to riding – fear of motorists. “I worry about other drivers not paying attention,” she said. But riding with Yay Bikes! changed that. They didn’t have any scary interactions with motorists on their July ride. “Riding with Yay Bikes! changed my mindset because the vast majority of drivers were accommodating to our presence on the road.”

Michelle hopes to see the expansion of relationships like this to other areas of the state. “Yay Bikes! encouraged us to investigate concerns about road design with their non-adversarial approach. I’d like to think the culture of biking is changing in Ohio and these relationships between engineers, transportation professionals and bike advocates like Yay Bikes! are to thank.”

"My feet were moving. I forgot there were cars." — Jamilah's story

Name: Jamilah Tucker
Lives in: Hilliard
Works in: Downtown Columbus

“I only went where the sidewalks could take me.”

A co-worker was championing Ride Buddy, a program Yay Bikes! hosted to teach downtown workers to ride bikes instead of drive. Jamilah was curious. “People were doing it and I was like ‘oh, that looks fun!’”

Riding with Yay Bikes! helped Jamilah see the roads differently.

Riding with Yay Bikes! helped Jamilah see the roads differently.

But she hadn’t been on a bike since junior high and she was scared, never having traveled by bike anywhere besides the sidewalk. “There are all these reasons not to get on a bike. I was nervous about getting hit by a car,” she said. Jamilah needed direction before she felt comfortable riding a bike on her own. Determined, she asked co-worker after co-worker to join her on a downtown bike ride with Yay Bikes!. Finally, a friend agreed.

“Building up to it was the worst,” Jamilah said. She was sweaty and shaking as she tried to remember the mechanics of working the pedals. She climbed upon the seat of a CoGo bike and moved with as much ease as she could muster. “A few minutes into it, my feet were moving. I forgot there were cars.”

“We feel comfortable to ride our bikes at home.”

Soon after, Jamilah found a bike at a garage sale. For $15 she bought it, cleaned it up and made it her own. She rides it regularly with her 11-year-old daughter on her own bike just ahead. They ride the road, mostly to and from the park or around the neighborhood. “It was a good thing to be in that group and to gain education so we feel comfortable to ride our bikes at home,” Jamilah said.

The biggest change was her awareness of bicyclists on the road which she shared with her husband. “We didn’t used to pay attention to bicyclists,” Jamilah said.

“The road was created for moving people.”

Now Jamilah and her husband are aware of the need to share the road. “Not everyone has a car. The road was created for moving people; we have to respect each other.”

She’s grateful for the experience to learn a new approach to getting around downtown every day. While she does not commute to work by bike, Jamilah hopes to start integrating CoGo bike rides into her lunch hour, inviting friends and co-workers along when she can. “My mentality about getting around and paying attention to roads has changed. I wouldn’t have gotten back on a bike without the Yay Bikes! experience.”

"Biking gives me freedom." — Cassie's story

“That wasn’t working for me.”

Cassie's social life is full since she found Yay Bikes!. Here she is riding in the annual Columbus Tweed Ride.

Cassie's social life is full since she found Yay Bikes!. Here she is riding in the annual Columbus Tweed Ride.

Cassie was feeling dissatisfied. She had moved to Columbus from Southern California in 2007 for graduate school and was spending most of her time working. “I was kind of at a point in my life where I was bogged down in work,” she says. She spent the little free time she had cuddled on the couch, watching T.V. in an effort to clear her mind. “That wasn’t working for me. I needed something to change so I could feel happier.” Trolling Facebook in early 2014, she came across a post about Year of Yay! ride. She gave it some thought. “It looked like you could just show up, so I went...by myself.”

“I felt like I did something.”

Cassie arrived to her first Year of Yay! ride in July of 2014 on a new bike she had purchased just a month before. Previously, she had commuted three miles on the Olentangy bike path to OSU, rarely on the road. Though she felt hesitant about jumping into a new experience without anyone she knew, Cassie is a self-described social butterfly so she embraced the discomfort and was excited to try something new.

The group welcomed Cassie with open arms, making sure she never felt alone during her first ride. Many miles later, she was pleased. “When I got home I felt like I did something I wanted to do. My body felt good!”

Cassie’s free time shifted. She ditched the T.V. for a more social kind of relaxation. “I liked going on the ride because it was an easy way to be with a group, but I didn’t have to orchestrate anything.”  She immediately decided to become a Yay Bikes! member.

“It’s easier than driving!”

Riding with Yay Bikes! expanded Cassie’s knowledge of hand signals, traffic laws and bike safety, but it also gave her a nudge to be more adventurous on her bike. “It made riding on the road part of the experience and helped me to be more brave to try new routes.” Most importantly, it helped her to feel comfortable to commute the streets of Columbus by bike multiple days a week. “Now I drive only on the weekends.” Without the hassle of managing her car, searching for parking, paying for parking, Cassie’s mornings are stress-free. For her, biking is much easier than driving.

“It’s our duty to teach others.”

Cassie feels confident in her new lifestyle. Soon after her introduction to Yay Bikes!, she was asked to become an ambassador for our How We Roll program. She gleefully accepted the opportunity to teach college students to ride bikes. With ease, Cassie transitioned into a role that has her leading new bicyclists through the streets of Columbus like ducklings following their mother. In the two hours they ride with her, the students’ demeanor goes from stressed and scared to calm and confident. She adores it.  “To see someone walk away with something they didn’t have before is really cool”

Armed with her heightened awareness, deep knowledge and passion for bicycle commuting, Cassie takes her role as an educator to the next level. “It almost feels like a duty to teach others how to interact with us [bicyclists] and to know what to expect.”

“I feel like I’m doing something for myself without doing something extra.”

Bicycling has brought a sense of community and a new purpose to Cassie’s life that didn’t exist before. Instead of spending her time watching T.V. at home, she needs to schedule time to herself. “It feels like biking gives me a lot more freedom. I have options.”

In this community of bicyclists, she has made countless friends with whom she explores the city, she has learned new skills that she is sharing with others, she has come to love Columbus and she thinks of it as home. “I’ve built a good life for myself.”