Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Yay Bikes Newsletter - December, 2009

From the great folks at Yay Bikes! Visit their website, support them, and join the fun at Columbus's number one bike forum!

Dearest Cyclist,

In the most joyous spirit of the holidays, Yay Bikes! thanks you for your kindness, patience, creativity, and generosity in 2009. Without you, Yay Bikes! cyclists wouldn't have celebrated a successful Bike to Work Week, opened an office, launched a new website, educated seven cycling instructors, provided Pedal Instead bicycle valet service at major events, helped Columbus attain the League of American Bicyclists' Bronze Award, and organized rides as diverse as Bike the Cbus and Night of 1000 Tacos!

If you'd like to support the work of Yay Bikes!, there are several options in the left-hand column in this newsletter. But other (already-nonprofit) local cycling organizations could also use your help! Please read on to learn more about these projects and how you can help advance their missions with even a small donation.

And stayed tuned for next month's newsletter, when we'll lay out a timeline for May Bike Month planning! Start thinking about YOUR contribution NOW!

Happy Holidays,
Yay Bikes!

The Bike Lady
bike gift
In 2008, the Blacklick woman now known as "The Bike Lady" organized an impromptu bike drive that collected enough cash, bikes and gear for 125 children of Franklin County Children's Services to wake up to a new bike from Santa! You can help The Bike Lady fulfill the holiday wishes of a vulnerable child this year with a cash donation - any amount is appreciated; $125 will get a child on a bike with a helmet and lock.

Pedal Instead


Volunteers with The Enrichment Association's bicycle valet service parked an impressive 5,436 bikes this year (up from 3,871 in 2008!) for cyclists at events like Buckeye Football, ComFest, Latino Fest, and more. This year the team was also awarded the WTS International Innovative Transportation Solutions Award! Your sponsorship of or donation to Pedal Instead allows the bike valet to maintain its equipment and to attend events that couldn't otherwise afford the service.

Third Hand Bicycle Co-op


The primary goal of the Third Hand Bicycle Co-op is to promote cycling as safe and environmentally responsible transportation. The shop provides community members with the facilities and tools, and the skills and knowledge, to help make cycling an essential part of their everyday lives. Weekly open shop hours are Weds 6-9pm and Sat 12-6pm, with a Womyn/Trans night on Thursdays 6-9pm. Your donation to Third Hand helps with overhead during the winter off-season and with the purchase of tools.

Learn More & Contribute!
People, not speed.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Hilltop Commission Recommendation Against Bike Lanes on West Broad - Good Decision or Bad?

Last night, the Hilltop Commission, a neighborhood semi-governmental group in Columbus, voted to recommend against installing bike lanes on its section of West Broad as well as removing the parking lane on the south side of the road.

As you probably all know, I'm a vehicular cycling advocate. I agree with the philosophy of the League of American Bicyclists and their bike education credo that:

Cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles.

I feel that bike lanes are dangerous for a few reasons.

First, drivers don't know how to use them properly - both cyclists and motorists. Cyclists tend to stay in them even when it's not safe, such as when they're approaching an intersection. And right-turning motorists, who should pull into the bike lane after yielding to cyclists already there when they wish to turn, don't do so - and run the heavy risk of hitting cyclists who are not turning (the famed "right hook" collision).

Second, they decrease visibility of cyclists. The safest place for a cyclist is in the middle of a lane, where he can be seen easily by all road operators. Many call this taking or controlling the lane. But by huddling into a bike lane on the right side of the road, they're frequently out of the line of vision for motorists. Any time a motorist can't see you, you're in danger of a collision.

Third, they send the wrong message. The above philosophy states that cyclists fare best when treated as the drivers of vehicles. Though the intention of a bike lane is to try to keep cyclists safer if they want that protection, motorists frequently see the intention of a bike lane as "keeping them darned cyclists out of my way." Though state law stipulates that no community can create a law that forces cyclists off of any road other than an interstate, motorists don't widely know that. And that mindset that cyclists belong off the road is not only incorrect, it's dangerous for obvious reasons.

The opposing view of bike lanes, also known as the facilitators' point of view, is that bike lanes are safer because they take bikes out of the way of cars, and that perception of more safety will increase the number of cyclists on the road. And it's true - study after study shows that cyclists fare better when more cyclists are on the road.

But... let's look at Columbus for a moment. We don't have a lot of bike lanes in Columbus - just a few miles along both Schrock and Morse Roads. Both of them are poorly designed and full of trash. But I don't think there's a regular cyclist in town (nor are there many motorists) who's going to deny that we have more people cycling in this city than ever before. And official statistics show this to be the case as well. Could we have even more if we installed more bike lanes? Possibly. But is it the best idea? I don't think so. It leads to uneducated (and therefore dangerous) cycling.

I'd much rather see the city/state implement more cycling instruction in schools - perhaps starting at the fifth grade level when kids are really starting to feel the urge to get on their bikes. Teach the kids how to operate bicycles properly.

And I'm even more in favor of instituting more motorist education at the drivers' ed level, to inform new drivers how to operate around cyclists and about cyclists' rights. Add to that some mandatory cycling-related questions on the drivers' ed examination and you'll solve a lot of the problems.

People, not speed.