Category Archives: advocacy

Provide input on the Connect Columbus Transportation Plan. Don’t Be shy!

ConnectColumbusThe City of Columbus is gathering input from residents, businesses and other stakeholders for the creation of Connect Columbus, a long-range multimodal transportation plan that will serve as a guide for future construction on City streets.

“Yay Bikes is delighted to be a member of the Community Advisory Group for this plan,” said Catherine Girves, Executive Director of Yay Bikes!. “We fully support the focus on enhancing equitable, healthy, and sustainable transportation between the places people live, work, and play in and around the City of Columbus”

The plan will emphasize improved safety and reduced congestion, and will promote economic development and a healthier, greener city that will continue to be competitive, attracting residents, employers and visitors.

 “We must invest in streets that are safer for pedestrians and bicycles and embrace other alternatives to individual cars,” said Mayor Michael B. Coleman.  “Everyone has a role in this process to help keep Columbus growing and one of the most vibrant cities in the nation for generations to come.”

 A series of open houses, workshops and community events will be held, focusing on three themes:  Vision and Goals; Generating New Project Ideas; and Evaluation of Projects.  Residents will be asked to comment on projects, community goals and policies relating to public transit, driving, cycling and walking in Columbus.  The schedule for the first meetings on the plan’s Vision and Goals include:

·         March 31,  6–8 pm at Christ Memorial Baptist Church, 3330 East Livingston Ave

·         April 1,  10am–2pm and 6-8pm at Columbus Urban League, 788 Mount Vernon Ave

·         April 2, 2015:  6–8pm at Downtown High School, 364 South 4th Street

Additional public meetings will be scheduled in the future.  Public comment will be incorporated in the Connect Columbus final plan which will produce policies, guidelines and plans that will help define, prioritize, and guide Columbus to implementing realistic goals and projects.  The plan will influence how local transportation dollars are invested in transit, pedestrian, bicycle, and roadway infrastructure.  The Connect Columbus planning process will also complement COTA’s Next Generation plan and MORPC’s Metropolitan Transportation Plan.

 “Connect Columbus represents the next best step in planning for a city that will add 500,000 by the year 2050,” said Councilmember Shannon G. Hardin, chair of the Public Service and Transportation Committee. “By working together to assess our diverse transportation needs, we will ensure a plan that is both sustainable and attractive to all of our community’s stakeholders.”

 The Connect Columbus planning process will be a two-year effort.  Residents are encouraged to visit an online forum to comment and for current information about Connect Columbus.

STAND up with Yay Bikes! for Transportation

Yay Bikes! is delighted to stand with The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA), Ohio Public Transit Association, Mid Ohio Regional Planning  Commission, Franklin County Commissioners, Conference of Minority Transportation Officials, Women’s Transportation Seminar (Columbus), Transit Columbus, Yay Bikes!, and other transportation supporters across the country who are hosting events in honor of National Transportation Infrastructure Day on April 9, 2015.

We stand together in advocating for equitable distribution of resources for sustainable transportation. Events around the nation will highlight and strongly advocate on behalf of a long-term, sustainable and reliable federal transportation funding bill. The extension of the current transportation funding bill, known as MAP-21, expires on May 31, 2015.

The Central Ohio event will bring together municipal, county, regional and state government leaders, transportation professionals and advocates, trade groups, contractors, business and community leaders.

Winning at bicycle infrastructure: The true story of how a dream team, a touch of magic and Yay Bikes!’ special sauce made Columbus’s first protected bike lane happen

By now the news has been shared far and wide: Columbus’s first protected bike lane will soon be installed from Hudson to 11th in the University District! Read the details here and here to boost your day with some YAY and more YAY! Both articles give a nod to the role Yay Bikes! played in helping nudge this project forward with our infrastructure review process:

 “Original plans called for a conventional bike lane, but the city reconsidered its position after engineers rode with representatives from Yay Bikes, a local advocacy and education group.”—Dispatch article

“The important thing about this, though…was the interactions between the department and Yay Bikes!—this is not engineers in a hermetically sealed room designing a project. Catherine and the folks at Yay Bikes were instrumental in making this what it is.”—Rick Tilton, Assistant Director, City of Columbus Department of Public Service

“I will say this, I like to ride my bike but I’ve always ridden on the trail system—I had never ridden on the street—and Yay Bikes! invited us to go out on a couple of different occasions and actually ride on the street with them. And, before the ride, I thought it was going to be really scary, but it turned out that drivers were very courteous, and it wasn’t frightening at all. You want to pay attention to what you’re doing, but it was just like you were in any other vehicle. At the time of Yay Bikes ride on Summit and Fourth, the protected lane was not a done deal… we were thinking about it, but it was still in the planning stages.”—Richard Ortman, Engineer, City of Columbus

But as much as we’d like to, obviously we can’t take all the credit for the new protected lane. So how do advocacy wins like this actually happen? To the extent that we can take credit for it, we at Yay Bikes! believe our advocacy philosophy played a role that I will detail below. Beyond that, let’s not underestimate the roles that leadership, timing and, frankly, magic play in creating the big advocacy wins that many groups fully claim. For example, at this precise moment in history, as the stars align within the U.S., Ohio and Central Ohio—the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Secretary Fox has issued a Mayor’s Challenge to improve bicycle safety; the Federal Highway Administration is committed like never before to promoting bicycle safety; the Ohio Department of Transportation is making bicycle safety projects, including exciting demonstration projects like this, a priority for the safety funding it distributes; Columbus’s Mayor Michael Coleman often states his intention to make Columbus one of the best bicycling cities in the country; Columbus’ Director of Public Service is investing heavily in a new relationship with us, the local bicycle advocacy organization; and Yay Bikes! is sufficiently successful to provide the level of expertise now in such high demand. Each of these players comprise the “dream team” that made this protected bike lane happen, and they all deserve a big fat standing O for their work.

But returning to how Yay Bikes! conducts the business of bicycle advocacy. As with all things Yay Bikes!, our cooperative advocacy philosophy flows from our core values of Kindness, Excellence & Integrity. Taking the case of this protected lane as an example, the following are our underlying assumptions and how they translate into our advocacy practices.

Assumptions + Practices

Everyone is more accommodating when they are treated with kindness.

We all want safe, functional streets. Even engineers who don’t yet see the value of accommodating bicyclists want streets that work. Our practice is to treat everyone with kindness and to be selective about who we permit to interface directly with project staff. Professionals should be shielded from those who would shame them or make their lives more difficult.

Everyone brings different, valuable expertise to the table.

It is critical that both advocates and professionals work in partnership to design roadways. Advocates (i.e., both paid staff and organization members) bring essential knowledge of road riding, while the project design team brings a wealth of professional expertise and experience. To capture the best of the expertise from both groups, our practices are to 1) lead the design team on a ride of the route to evaluate their proposed changes, 2) open participation in the commentary process to our membership, so that as many voice as possible are heard from and 3) trust the professionals to revise their plans as necessary to address both our concerns and the conditions they experienced on the ride.

Every roadway requires a different treatment.

There is no best type of infrastructure. We do not advocate for protected bike lanes or other such one-size-fits-all solutions. Our roads are all very different, and none were designed for bicycles. Our practice is to actually ride each roadway and work from the designs proposed by knowledgeable engineers to help determine its best possible retrofit.

There is no substitute for actually riding the roads.

We can’t say it enough — it is not sufficient to simply review maps. Because riding a bicycle is not an intellectual exercise, we must ride the roads with those who are charged with designing them so that they can experience it directly. And because these people are often not road riding cyclists, our job as advocates is to help them feel comfortable riding alongside traffic, and alleviate any fears they may have.

Now admittedly, the case of this protected lane featured a healthy dose of magic, in that all the players were on the same page and committed to going above and beyond to serve local cyclists. Advocacy can surely get a lot messier than that. But for the professionals who work with Yay Bikes!, at least a few things can be counted on regardless: you will be treated with kindness and respect, you will have a reasoned partner in determining the best treatment for each unique roadway condition, and you will be expected to get on your bikes. Now let’s ride!

Out & About with Yay Bikes! : January 2015

“Selfies with Catherine”, Shannon Hardin (Columbus City Council) edition

Welcome to our new monthly feature, in which we round up all our events, earned media, meetings and speaking engagements for the month. Behold, January:

Jan 5 = Meeting with Transit Columbus’s Elissa Schneider, re: Open Streets and other potential partnerships

Jan 5 = Meeting of MORPC’s Community Advisory Committee, on which Catherine serves

Jan 6 = Meeting with Columbus City Council’s new Public Service Chair Shannon Hardin, re: introducing him to our work

Jan 7 = Columbus Food League’s Yay Bikes! fundraiser @ Grass Skirt Tiki Room

Jan 7 = Meeting with Greater Columbus Art Council’s Ruby Harper, re: integrating art and bicycling

Jan 13 = Meeting with ODOT’s Julie Walcoff and the Ohio AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) Foundation’s Hayley Southworth, re: providing trainings for the 2015 “Put a Lid On It” campaign

Jan 14 = Presentation at Grandview Civic Welfare Club, re: Yay Bikes! programming

Jan 15 = Meeting with Bexley’s Mayor Ben Kessler, Council Member Deneese Owen and Service Department Director Bill Dorman, re: serving Bexley’s cyclists

Jan 27 = Meeting with City of Columbus Deparment of Public Service Director Tracie Davies & Deputy Director Jennifer Gallagher, re: Multimodal Thoroughfare Plan update and other city bike business

Jan 28 = Meeting of the Bicycle Subcommittee of the Transportation & Pedestrian Commission, on which Catherine serves

Jan 30 = Columbus Dispatch article: “University District to get first protected bike lane in Columbus”

Protected bike lanes in CBus? Who would’ve thunk it

protected bike lanes
example, not the actual plan

Today, the Columbus Dispatch reported: “Columbus is getting its first protected bike lane as part of a plan to resurface Summit/3rd and 4th streets and add bike lanes along the heavily traveled corridors.

“Bike lanes will be installed along those routes between Fulton and Hudson streets, with a 1.4-mile section of Summit developed into a two-way, protected bike lane. That section will be between 11th Avenue and Hudson Street in the University District, and shielded by on-street parking.

“Original plans called for a conventional bike lane, but the city reconsidered its position after engineers rode with representatives from Yay Bikes, a local advocacy and education group.

“They’re coming up with really good solutions just because they’re understanding from a different perspective — from the seat of a bicycle,” said Catherine Girves, the organization’s executive director.

“She said the new bike lanes will be useful for both new and experienced bicyclists, who sometimes eschew lanes because it’s more convenient to ride with traffic.

“Adding protected bike lanes near Ohio State University, an area heavily populated with bicyclists, also can act as a model for the rest of the city, Girves said. “As a test site, this is the ideal place,” she said.”

Read the entire article here.

Review OSU’s bicycle accommodation plan and we’ll pass along your comments

CTPP_BikeAccommodations
OSU’s map of proposed bicycle infrastructure

As recently reported on Columbus Underground, OSU has released a draft of its Comprehensive Transportation and Parking Plan. Yay Bikes! will be meeting with OSU planners and staff during the week of December 8 to provide input on the plan, and we are excited to pass on the genius thoughts of our community members. Continue reading Review OSU’s bicycle accommodation plan and we’ll pass along your comments

Winning at safer streets, and at life: Our 2014 Advocacy in Review

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Our new street plan evaluation rides transformed the designs for 4th & 3rd/Summit.
When you support Yay Bikes!  >>>  Advocacy happens!
1 law passed
5 transportation committees served
2 street plan evaluation rides
31 local advocates engaged
29 news stories
11 speaking engagements

Yay Bikes! has a long history of bicycle advocacy, but in 2014 we upped our game by shepherding a 3′ Passing Law in the City of Columbus and partnering with the Department of Public Service to help its engineers design better bicycle infrastructure. Our new street plan evaluation rides have transformed plans for 4th and 3rd/Summit Streets and provided a solid template for similar rides going forward. This month we’ll be providing commentary regarding OSU’s bicycle accommodations plan and we’re in conversations about training engineers in other municipalities statewide. Please consider an end-of-year gift to help Yay Bikes! expand our impact through advocacy initiatives and other programming next year. 

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.   

~ From all of us at Yay Bikes! ~

Our public input methodology & how to get involved

photoYay Bikes! members on a ride to evaluate proposed changes to 3rd and 4th Streets in downtown Columbus.

With our inaugural infrastructure input project about to be wrapped, we’re confident that this formula fits well with our culture and, more importantly, that it works.  Here’s the breakdown of how we’re going to handle each request we receive for cyclist feedback, and how you can get involved. Of course anyone may feel free to provide their own feedback directly to the city, whether in writing or at their public input meetings, but this is how Yay Bikes! will generate our official feedback on proposed infrastructure projects. Although our leadership is comprised of some damn impressive bicycle experts (ahem… if we do say so…!), we refuse to decide our advocacy positions from within a board room. We believe the process described below is more robust and participatory than you will find anywhere in the country, and we hope you will become a member so you can have your voice heard. Continue reading Our public input methodology & how to get involved

Become a GOOBI on the inaugural infrastructure commentary ride with Yay Bikes!

GOOBI: one who likes to Geek Out On Bicycle Infrastructure
Yay Bikes! has been asked by the City of Columbus, Department of Public Service to provide feedback regarding bicycle infrastructure proposed for 3rd and 4th Streets in downtown Columbus. To provide Public Service Director Davies and Deputy Director Gallagher with productive input on the designs, we are launching a new infrastructure ride crit series for our fellow GOOBIes,  through which we will ride the streets, imagine how the proposed changes will affect us as cyclists and deliver our commentary on a future ride with project staff. Here’s how it will work this time around:

Continue reading Become a GOOBI on the inaugural infrastructure commentary ride with Yay Bikes!

How We Roll gets more shout outs in Akron

share-the-road“If they were gangs they would be the Fearsome Fours vs. the Terrible Twos and their battleground is the streets of Akron and Summit County where the fight takes place every single day.

“Cars may rule the roads, but bicycles are an increasingly common sight on the streets. Both clans seem to want the other to get out of their respective way, while Akron officials would like for everyone to just get along.”  Read the full story at the Akron Beacon Journal.