SPRING HAS FINALLY arrived and the time is ripe to get out of your car and start bicycling. I will admit it isn’t always easy to opt for the two wheels.
Busy streets, impatient drivers, and a lack of bike lanes and paths can make bicycling an uphill battle. At least that’s what I told myself, before three of my bike savvy friends invited me for a ride up High St. from the Short North to the Park of Roses.
I was enticed by the social aspect of riding with a group of experienced cyclists, plus it made me feel safe and comfortable. The urban experience via bicycling also made it exciting. So I said yes; it was one of the best decisions I could have made.
Bicycling is a really smart way to get around — especially for those couple miles or less trips. According to the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC), at least one-third of the Columbus region’s potential drivers do not drive cars for a variety of reasons. A convenient and safe bikeway network could serve those who do not or cannot drive while attracting others to make short trips on bikes instead in cars.
By now, we all know that bicycling is good for health, fitness, and reducing carbon emissions as well as increasing your sex appeal. Yes, guys (and gals) on bikes are instantly hot — and they know it. But bikes aren’t just good for you and eye candy; they’re good for your wallet and the Columbus economy, too!
Imagine getting a $3,000 to $9,000 tax rebate this year. Now imagine it coming again and again. This amount is actually a conservative estimate of the potential saving from ditching or reducing your car use for a bike. “Look at the bike as a normal, everyday tool,” suggests Jessie Mathews from Consider Biking. “Go run an errand on a bike in your everyday clothes and realize how easy it is.” The bicycle economy is not about new development or raising property values. It’s about bettering our existing neighbor-hoods and the yearly savings I mentioned.
Business owners often have the perception that automobile access equals dollars — and anything that possibly impedes car access or parking will impact their revenues. Kelly Clifton, an engineering professor at Portland State University, found the opposite to be true. She conducted research that surveyed residents at various neighborhoods throughout the Portland area. Her findings concluded that while customers who drive to various establishments may spend more money per visit, bicyclists visit the same businesses more often and spend more overall.
Expanding and enhancing bicycle infrastructure is a key component of a world class transportation system. The City of Columbus recognizes the importance as well and has allocated millions of dollars over the past several years towards bicycle infrastructure. Last November the City Council approved a $2.27 million contract with Alta Bicycle Share to introduce a bike sharing program to Columbus — the first city in Ohio to offer such a program.
This bike sharing program will allow anyone to pick up a bicycle at a self-serve bike station and return it to any other bike station in the system. In Columbus the stations will be located about a third of a mile apart allowing for easy access and maximum use. The initial cost covers purchasing bicycles, building up to 30 solar-powered bike stations, and operating costs for the first year. The city will own the bicycles and stations, but all day-to-day responsibilities will fall to Alta. Expect Columbus’ bike sharing program to make its debut later this year.
The beauty of a bike sharing system is that it opens the experience to a wider range of people, which has tremendous potential to change how people experience Columbus. A bike friendly Columbus isn’t just good for the people who live here; it will also attract tourists and their dollars into the local economy. As Meredith Joy, the Executive Director of Yay Bikes!, says, “You can’t learn how to bicycle by reading an article or pamphlet …You have to get out there with friends and learn firsthand.” I fully agree.
Biking Events and Information
How We Roll Campaign
In 2011, the student organization Bike OSU started the campaign, How We Roll, with the goal to foster a positive bike culture on campus, to ensure that everyone can ride with confidence, and to eliminate bike/car crashes in the university area. How We Roll is a peer-based outreach campaign, managed by Yay Bikes!, and funded by ODOT and the Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS).
May 10: Ohio Women's Bicycling Summit
Time: 10am - 4pm
Where: Goodale Park Shelter House
Description: Educate, engage, and activate more women in Ohio to ride bikes. Please email any questions or concerns to: firstname.lastname@example.org
May 11-12: TOSRV 52
May 15: Ride of Silence, Columbus
June 4: OBF Bicycle Awareness Day at the Ohio
June 15-22: The Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure
Where: Urbana - Troy - Greenville -
New Bremen - Sidney – Urbana
Description: Held annually in June,GOBA feature bicycle touring at a leisurely pace, for approximately
50 miles per day through some of the friendliest areas that Ohio offers. The daily routes lead you
to amazing tour attractions and welcoming food stops, while the overnights are spent being
entertained by our host towns and camping under a blanket of stars. www.goba.com
July 12: Mayor's Twilight Ride
Where: Genoa Park at COSI, 333 W. Broad
Description: The unique route takes riders through the vibrant downtown area, including Columbus Commons, Scioto Mile, the new Rich Street Bridge, and other city gems. It also includes views of
parks, city landmarks, and a wide variety of architecture in neighborhoods such as Franklin Park, King-Lincoln, Victorian Village and Franklinton.
August 31: Bike the C-Bus
Where: Lincoln Theater
Description: An annual 25-mile ride around the inner parts of Columbus. Organized by Yay Bikes! and the Long Street Business Association, the bike
route goes through neighborhoods such as King Lincoln District, Woodland Park, Olde Towne East, Downtown, Short North Arts District, Italian Village,
Harrison West, Victorian Village, Arena District, Franklinton, Brewery District and German Village.