A few weeks ago, my friend and Editor-in-Chief of FIT Columbus Magazine (Chelsea Castle) reached out and asked if I wanted to write a piece on bicycling for the magazine and while I did, I took the opportunity in a different direction that I feel is a necessary direction;  beginning to dissect driving behavior and why we drive the way we do.  I’ve been borderline obsessed with driving behaviors and the disruption of routines; anonymity and assumed entitlement when it comes to the driving culture to where I feel if I can construct this topic in the right way, this could make for a thought-provoking TED Talk which I plan on trying.

Anyways…  here’s the beginning:

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When was the last time you were caught in a light, misty summer rain and loved every minute of it?  How about one of those Southwest-style sunsets that burst hues of orange, purple and pink, making it physically impossible to do anything but stop and be in it? Those are just two personal experiences I’ve had when riding my bike. The particular summer night when I was caught in the light rain, I smiled the whole time and never felt more alive. Those sunsets I’ve experienced, I literally lost my breath and had to pull my bike over because I couldn’t not appreciate what was happening.

Riding a bike has changed my life. From a health perspective, incorporating my bike as an everyday mode of transport, exercise has become as routine as brushing my teeth. The best thing is that it’s become so integrated, I don’t see it as exercise but as a vehicle to get me to my destination. We think we need high-intensity workouts to keep us in shape, when studies have shown that incorporating bicycle commuting into your daily life improves mental health, lowers risk for cardiovascular disease and can actually increase physical performance as much as specific training programs What if you switched out two errands per month using your bike instead of your car?  Try it.   

I was asked to write a guest piece on bicycle etiquette and safety, but I feel compelled to begin a bigger story; I advocate and fight like hell for safer streets in Columbus. But what does that mean? It’s simple: we need to design cities for people, not cars. For decades, the scales have been tipped in favor of car culture; five-lane-wide streets, one-way roads and very little urban beautification. When you have wide streets with nothing of interest to look at, you get in and get out as quickly as possible.  We drive based upon the design of our streets. Think about how fast you can drive on Broad Street then think about how fast you can drive on Gay Street.

When we combine streets designed for speeding cars with human beings going three to four times slower by way of walking or biking, the clash begins. Why? Why is there such hostility to the point of violence? Bikes are legally considered vehicles; bikers should be following the same rules. Most of us do. Some of us don’t, and as a bicycle advocate constantly fighting for safer streets, it pisses me off when I see unsafe behavior. But there’s a flip side to that coin; drivers are just as unlawful, sometimes more. Driving has become so commonplace and such a “thoughtless” task that we’ve become lazy and fat behind the wheel; corners are cut because we consider ourselves better than average drivers. 

What’s it going to take for us all to play nice in the sandbox? I wish I had the answer, but no matter which way you slice it, you’re always going to have the haters who can’t, or won’t, get along. What I want everyone who reads this to know is that when you see me riding my bike, I’m a twin sister and a daughter, a breathing human being and NOT a “cyclist” or a “pedestrian.” Maybe when we start to see each other as human beings instead of these polarizing, sterile identities, the curtain of animosity will be lifted away—forcing us to reintroduce empathy and acknowledge the individual trying to get to her destination safely, instead of just an object slowing us down.

I recently had the great opportunity to blog for one of my favorite organizations: Project for Public Spaces.  If you’re not familiar, you should be.  Project for Public Spaces is a non-profit dedicated to create and sustain public spaces that build stronger communities.  There are some cities doing wonderful projects that are putting life back into under-utilized streets.  While I love reading blog postings on this site, I was always frustrated because we’ve been doing some pretty cool things here and more people should about them.  So, here it is.

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I am one of the “zealous nuts.” I live in Columbus, Ohio and I think about Placemaking and Streets as Places all the time. You can easily catch me out in the neighborhood observing street-life behavior, or taking photos of things like benches (without backs) placed randomly on isolated and ridiculously over-sized slabs of concrete void of life and asking the question, “…Why?”

I don’t remember exactly when this passion (mixed with mild-obsession) began with wanting to re-create a city prioritizing people instead of autos. I’m sure the birth of it began while living in San Francisco in the late 90s/early 2000s. I had no need to own a car; I biked, bused, walked everywhere, and everywhere you went, people were around. Life was constantly happening in the streets. I remember I experienced my first diagonal crosswalk on New Montgomery Street and I thought it was the coolest concept, but also such an “A-HA!” moment: Convenience.

I moved back to Columbus in 2002 and quickly realized I wasn’t in “convenience, multi-modal-land” anymore. I bought a used car. My car did its job for a good six years. During that time, I would attempt to bike to certain destinations, but quickly learned first-hand how unfriendly our streets were. I also realized that when I was living in San Francisco, I used my bike as a mode of transportation – not merely as a recreational item when I merely felt like it. I didn’t fully grasp this until I moved back to Columbus and experienced how much harder it was. You see, in a city as dense as San Francisco, with its various integrated modes and speeds, drivers always have to be aware and drive more cautiously. In Columbus during that time, you rarely saw a person walking or biking; cars were the dominant mode and like the majority of cities and towns across the U.S., streets were designed to seduce you to speed. I’m all for being seduced but not while biking on an arterial road that I have to “share” with cars going 40 mph.


As it turns out, history ALWAYS finds a way to repeat itself. Adult onesies are hotter than before, video arcades are the “in” place to hang out, and also revitalization – yes, revitalization – to resuscitate a space that’s lost its vigor, is having a comeback in a major way. In the past ten years, we’ve seen a boom in Downtown Revitalization Projects that are attracting people to once again move in instead of out. Columbus is one of those cities and we’ve made incredible strides in the past ten years. We have an amazing urban park in the center of our downtown that fills with life and concerts and various organized sports during the spring, summer, and fall months. We have a riverfront that has been transformed into a destination (and is currently being expanded) for residents and tourists with a cityscape view that’ll take your breath away. And in 2014 our downtown living soared from 4,000 residents to 7,000. People are coming back and I’ve loved watching our downtown find its heartbeat again.

So, where do I come in? Well, I love Columbus but one thing has constantly nagged me about this city:  One of the most repetitive adjectives I hear when people describe Columbus is, “potential” – including myself. “Columbus has such potential if only…” I want to stop being an awesome city IF and start being an awesome city that IS, and that means DOING. So, with a little talent, hustle, and guts, I’ve been DOING.


The concept of Placemaking here in Columbus is only about four years new. One of the “primer” projects that opened up people’s eyes and minds to the possibilities of what could be was a 2013 project called CBUS FOTO. This collective engagement project organized through Columbus’ Center for Architecture and Design, and led by the vision of Michael and Sarah Bongiorno with a group of talented young designers, asked citizens of Columbus to photograph empty, overlooked spaces and buildings in the city and come up with creative ways on how to fill them. The hope was to inspire citizens to understand that we are surrounded by under-utilized public spaces. These “overlooked” public spaces that we walk through every day and bike past everyday are blank canvasses awaiting rejuvenation. The value of this ephemeral project activated people’s imagination to see public spaces differently, as more than meets the eye.

mike and ryan

2014 was a very fulfilling year for me as two of my passion projects were launched to the people of Columbus:  The Columbus Parklet Project and Open Streets Columbus. Our team piloted Columbus’ first parklet for one month in September, 2014 with the help of nine business supporters. The public and nearby businesses embraced the 4th St Parklet and in 2015, we plan on implementing two more. Fred Kent said it best, “when you give people an interesting place to gather, they’ll gather.”

I fell in love with parklets years ago. I remember when I was flying to San Francisco, one of my “to-do’s” was to “hangout” in a parklet. Let that marinate in your brains for a minute.I’m headed to another city and one of my destinations is a parking space. But, I was drawn to them and I knew people in Columbus would be drawn to them too. They were unique and exciting and I loved that people filled up the space in front of a business instead of one car.Life was added.  The Columbus Parklet Project creates small yet powerful actions that will continue to show people that streets have a “double-duty” responsibility – that they are necessary for getting us from point A to point B, AND they can be places.


Another team I led was Open Streets Columbus. After three years of work and meetings and a lot of “no’s,” Columbus finally launched its first Open Streets event in September of 2014. We closed 0.8 miles of downtown streets and it became an urban playground for people of all ages (and wages). We’ve become submissive to the ‘Arrogance of Space.’ The Danish-coined term simply implies that there’s just too much space allocated to cars and drivers, and not enough for anything or anybody else. We’ve been told for so long that roads are made only to be driven on and outdated, myopic street design proves this. Open Streets initiatives turn the outdated thinking upside-down and gives the space back, allowing people to explore, connect, and realize on their own that equitable street design can happen.

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We had roughly 600 people come out and explore their city streets, free of all obstructions. It doesn’t sound like much but it was a great success, especially for a city that has a long way to go when it comes to bike/ped friendliness. The people who came out absolutely fell in love with Open Streets Columbus and in 2015, we’re planning to grow from one to two events. We are confident that with repetition and time, Open Streets Columbus will grow into a sustaining, thriving initiative every neighborhood embraces.

Years in the making and worth every moment.

I guess I wanted to write this blog for a couple reasons. I wanted to share some of our small successes here in Columbus because I’m proud of them and we’ve only just begun. I was tired of reading article after article about cities that are thriving, partially in part due to the presence of creative Placemaking projects and Columbus not being listed. Well, we now stand out, too, and I hope that can be an inspiration for other cities like ours. Lastly, Columbus has given me the support to take these risks. I say it’s a risk because for many people, especially decision-makers, as this is still uncharted territory. But, I believe these risks (and others) must be taken by everyone in order to not be a city that’s “status-quo.” I refuse to live in a city that’s “status-quo,” and I’m ‘all in’ to stand up to make the changes I want to see. We still have quite a ways to go but I think Columbus, and smaller and larger cities, are embracing the efforts of humanizing our streets again.

I recently went to Los Angeles to visit dear friends of mine and to get into warm weather.  I picked the perfect week.  89 degrees and cloudless skies.  It was exactly the medicine I needed.  I made no plans.  I told my people that I wanted as much ocean time as I could as well as some biking, reading, and hiking, and that’s what I got.  It was great.

While I loved visitng my friends and having the access of going to the ocean one day and then heading into the mountains the next, it was really eye-opening as a woman, hyper-sensitive to her built environment.

First and foremost, speed limits are a mere ‘suggestion’ there.  The design of city streets utterly contradict the intended speed.  Many streets are 8-9 lanes wide like my beloved Sepulveda Blvd.  Don’t ask me why I like that street, I just like the way it sounds.  Except for a couple streets downtown, I don’t think I saw any pedestrian refuges in the middle of these wide streets.  I was almost hit three times due to drivers wanting to get through that left turn as quickly as possible.

Some neighborhoods like Silver Lake, Santa Monica, and Los Feliz are better.  Culver City, you’re cute as hell but damn, even there, drivers park their Audi’s in the crosswalks!

If you’re a person NOT in a motor vehicle, you’re the foreigner.  I remember leaving Will Rogers beach and waiting to cross the PCH at the signal and waited for the ‘Walk’ to light for almost 6 mins!

One infrastructure piece I did love were all their ‘continental crosswalks’ at so many signalized intersections.  These crosswalks are bigger, wider, and provide more visibility to enhance pedestrian safety (photo will be below).  This is part of a larger effort of L.A. Walks and the work of LADOT’s Valerie Watson.  I met Val at the Open Streets National Summit last April and fell in love with this initiative as I feel in my city of Columbus, pedestrian safety is not being talked about enough.

The ‘level of stress’ I experienced as a passenger riding in Los Angeles remained at about a 7 out of 10.  I think however, that attributes to a few things:  1. I have very bad motion sickness; 2. You’re ALWAYS IN TRAFFIC; 3. Where ever you want to go, you need to hop on at least 3 different highways.

Going to L.A. always grounds me when I return here to Columbus and complain about heading up to Clintonville (6 miles). Community. I wondered when I was there, how one creates community.  I know you can create community anywhere but, it’s just so vast.  Also, with so many wide, fast streets, I noticed (and you’ll see below in pictures) that so many dwellings a multi-unit.  These dwellings are set up in such a way that it’s almost like ‘togetherness’ was the goal NOT to accomplish and ‘isolation’ was the beacon to strive for.  Gates and sound barriers; so many of these units have ‘balconies’ however, not one soul enjoyed their balcony when I would observe.  Who would?  Who would sit out and watch the 50mph traffic speed by?

I appreciate all the advocates out there trying to make L.A. a more liveable place.  I don’t think I could do it.  It’s just too big where I feel I wouldn’t be making a difference.

I’ll end on a few positives:  my wonderful, beautiful friends whom I love dearly.  Strolling through Venice and looking at all the beautiful homes and gardens (which I could do for hours).  The ocean that I absolutely adore.  Driving PCH as the sun is setting and being witness to that.  Finding the most awesome, random, off the path bar in Malibu that will now be mandatory any time I return to L.A. and, the mountains.  As an introvert, hiking in complete silence in such gorgeous topography is cathartic.

photo 1 (11) continental crosswalk.  loud and clear about pedestrian space.

photo 1 (10)Stepped into the middle of the street to show width.  9 lanes wide (including center turn lane)

photo 1 (12)Burbank Blvd.  The intersection where I was almost hit

photo 3 (11)I bet you that pedestrian doesn’t feel very comfortable

photo 4 (10)See that dude with the orange vest?  Well, he had to park his truck there to make adjustments and cars paid no mind.  Continued to pass him at 45+mph.

photo 4 (11)Many parts of the sidewalks looked like this.  This was 5 1/2 feet wide, not enough for two people to walk ‘comfortably’ or for a person in a wheelchair.  Also, notice the continued poles?

photo 4 (12) photo 1 (13) photo 2 (12)

Gates and fences and materials to isolate the high speeds.  Again, not a soul enjoying their ‘views.’

5 month recap in one post

It’s been five months since my last public confession :)  After five insanely busy months, I have the time to breathe and update those on what I’ve been consumed with.

For almost three years, I had been persistently and patiently working on two dream projects of mine:  to bring the first ‘Open Streets’ to Columbus as well as piloting Columbus’ first ‘parklet.’  For those reading this that don’t know, ‘Open Streets’ is a free initiative that temporarily closes streets down to autos and opens them up for people to engage in fun, healthy activities like yoga, biking, breakdancing, and more.  It’s all about experiencing streets as public spaces.  When I was a kid, I played in the streets ALL the time.  I rode my bike with my best friends and that’s just what we did.  These days, streets are too dangerous.  Playgrounds are built far away from the streets because the dangers of motor vehicle speeds and distracted drivers have reigned supremacy.

The ‘parklet.’  A ‘parklet’ is when you convert on-street parking spaces into ‘people’ spaces.  I remember having this conversation with my friend Liz over two years ago.  We met for coffee and I said, ‘Liz, I wanna pilot a parklet and I want to use one of your places.’  Without hesitation, she said, ‘absolutely.’

As one of my favorite people says, ‘Sometimes you have to turn things upside down to get them right-side up’ (Fred Kent).  I whole-heartedly believe this with every ounce of my being.  My two dreams projects did just that, turned things upside down.   When it comes to parking and road space we’ve given too much to the vehicle that when we try to do what’s right and step in and change it, people go cray!  The idea of closing downtown streets to cars to let people of all ages and abilities ‘play’ in them raised eyebrows.  No matter if I came to them showing them the data of other cities putting on ‘Open Streets’ and how ridiculously successful it was/is.  Successful from a public health angle.  Successful from a business economics angle.  Successful from a community engagement angle.  Successful from a broader encouragement of multi-modal transportation.  ‘Open Streets’ has transformed cities across the U.S.  Aside from the hard data, I had the privilege of experiencing Los Angeles’ ‘CicLAvia’ last April.  When you think Los Angeles, you think of boxtox and traffic; ‘carmaggedon.’  Los Angeles’ CicLAvia / Open Streets has been such a raging success that they put on 3 / year and close anywhere between 6-12 miles of Los Angeles streets.  That is not a typo people.  The one I experienced last April, tens of THOUSANDS of people came out and participated in playing and owning their streets – free from motor vehicle danger.  What resonated with me, as I stood in the middle of Wilshire Blvd was that so many families and people of all ages and backgrounds wanted to come and have a safe place to ride or play.  There aren’t enough safe places to ride and we just don’t slow down enough to appreciate our environment.  We have the ability to change our built environment when we realize the TRUE potential.  That’s why Open Streets has been so important to me.  I’ve seen what it does to people and cities.

After almost three years, organizations such as People For Bikes, Transit Columbus, Jeni’s, New Belgium Brewing, Capital Crossroads SID, Columbus Public Health , CD 102.5, Mt. Carmel East, Eccolyfe Designs, CDDC, Skreened, ID2014, and the Great Photobooth; stepped up to the plate and said, ‘we get it and they all invested.’  On Sunday, September 21st, Columbus joined the long list of other Open Streets cities.  We closed 0.8 miles of downtown Rich St.  I have to say it was a fantastic FIRST Open Streets for this city.  Columbus still has a long way to go in order to be a contending ‘bike-friendly’ city.  We’re making great progress but we have a long way to go.  We’ve heard nothing but positive feedback about Open Streets Columbus.  Our goal is to aim for ‘2’ Open Streets next year.  Success with an initiative like this cannot come overnight.  It must be recurring so people understand the concept and purpose.  With all the people and kids that came out and enjoyed the day, they now understand why Open Streets is so effective and successful.  All of those people will be future cheerleaders- spreading the Open Streets Columbus love as we put on future events.

I loved seeing how many kids were there.  I loved watching the parents not have any fear b/c that fear had been removed.  People laying a blanket out in the middle of the street b/c they could.  Getting people to look at their streets differently; seeing their streets as public spaces instead of only cars and parking is why Open Streets is so effective.

Here are some fun photos from Sept. 21st:

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We had about 18 high school students from the Mosiac school volunteer.  They loved it and we loved having them!

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Early on jenga users

headstand open streets challenge

Headstand challenge at the intersection of High and Rich.  I can bet  this is something you don’t see everyday!
open streets kids

So many people loved having the Rich St. bridge all to themselves.  Headstands, hangtime, biking, breakdancing, ska

teboarding and more. photo 3

POGA Columbus held their last ‘pop-up’ yoga for the summer at Open Streets.  What a great crowdphoto 4

Our ‘Scioto Beach’ was one of the biggest successes of Open Streets.  Yep, we built a small beach on the Rich St. Bridge.  Kid approved!zeke open streets


The comment above is the reason I have fought for Open Streets for so long.  This is exactly how we want people to feel.

Switch gears to the ‘Columbus Parklet Project.’  We had the great opportunity to unveil Columbus’ first parklet at the great Independents’ 2014.  Getting more eyes and butts in the parklet would only help generate more buzz for the 30 day pilot over at Dirty Franks downtown.  It sure did. It just so happened that unveiling the parklet at ID2014, was the same weekend as Open Streets Columbus.  Needless to say, I was stressed, excited, anxious, and hopeful.  No NEW project would be complete without its obstacles and we sure had some of those.  But, you push through and you take every moment as a teaching moment which I did.

The parklet was a great success at ID2014.  The following week it was moved outside of Dirty Franks Hot Dog Palace where it’ll be there for one month for the public to embrace (hopefully).  Again, this is a concept happening in other cities that are getting people and businesses to re-imagine the potential within our city streets.  Over 82% of drivers are single occupancy.  You drive your car to Dirty Franks, you park right out front and its YOU…one person.  You remove that parking space, convert it to ‘people space’ allowing people to sit, eat their lunch, converse, and just be visible to other drivers passing by, you automatically create buzz.  If you’re a business owner giving people a place to sit and stay for while, chances are they’ll spend money.  The idea of the one month pilot is to introduce the concept to both the people of Columbus and business owners.  The sky won’t fall if you remove one parking space usually taken up by ONE person and you convert it to where 12+ people can share and enjoy it.  We’ll collect data over the month during different times of the day as well as public feedback.  Thus far, its been super successful (minus a few haters and there always will be).  The Columbus Parklet Project had great support from businesses such as: MKSK Designs, Dirty Franks, Kaufman Development, Creath Landscape Design, Drift Industry, DRAC, Eccolyfe Designs, Columbus Eye, Square One Salon & Spa, and Wolf’s Ridge Brewing.  What really catches my eye is that every one of these businesses has nothing to do with the other.  They all come from different backgrounds yet they all see the Columbus Parklet Project as a great, fresh concept and are willing to invest.  Our goal is to get buy-in from this 30 day pilot to where we are able to expand and build new parklets with new designs in different parts of Columbus.  These small ‘interventions’ within our streets can become ‘destinations’ for people.  Parklets are part of the ‘lighter, quicker, cheaper’ strategy that many cities are embracing.  When people can be a part of a project from beginning to end there’s more personal investment that happens and a sense of ownership and pride.

I had some incredible people step up to help make this first parklet a reality: Ryan, Michael, Carey, Jess, Jerry, and Sarah.

Here are couple photos.  I encourage you to take a jaunt over to Dirty Franks within the next month.  Purchase a dog and have a seat in the parklet.

parklet phase 2

The beginning stages.parklet progress


Setting up before the big ID2014 weekend.

parklet id

Lots of traffic during Independents’ weekend.  first parklet DF

Ryan and Michael finishing up moving the parklet from Franklinton to downtown
safe_imageThe Columbus Dispatch published a piece on the parklet this past weekend.

And those are two of the projects I’ve been up to:)  These two projects have meant so much to me and I believe that with time and iterations of both, the people of Columbus will embrace.  I look forward to both Open Streets Columbus and the Columbus Parklet Project expanding and becoming initiatives that people support and want to be a part of.


This Saturday,  the 2nd Annual ‘OWBS’ will take place at the awesome Strongwater Food & Spirits event space.  Two years ago, I was at a bike advocate conference in Long Beach.  At this conference we held a ‘Women’s Forum’ discussing ways in which we can engage more women in the U.S. and Canada to ride bikes.  Currently, women commuting on bikes only make up just over 25%.  Some women feel intimidated b/c they rarely see others ‘like them’ riding.  Some may want to ride but they aren’t sure where or how to begin.  Some want to be educated more.  Some fear of being harrassed.  This list can go on.  So, during this ‘Women’s Forum’ in Long Beach, we all started to shout out our goals once we’d return to our home base.  My pledge, ‘I will organize the first statewide ‘Ohio Women’s Bicycling Summit’ in 2013!’  With some help from co-organizers Jeannie and Mimi, we made this happen.  Over 70 women from around Ohio (and two from Indiana) and nine presenters attended and presented at the ‘Ohio Women’s Bicycling Summit.’

In my opinion, it was very well received.  We got great feedback to where this Saturdays’ Summit, all of the topics are based upon what the attendees wanted to hear more about or become more educated in.  I worked extremely hard of the financial sponsors for this years Summit.  We have over 14 sponsors who believe in our mission and understand that when more women ride, the ripple effect of kids, families as a whole, happens.  This Summit does not exclude men.  Men are more than welcome to join us (we have a gentleman speaker) this Saturday, however, it is women-specific.  Why?  Because there is still a disparity out there.  There are still many women who better identify when hearing similar experiences…from a woman instead of a man.  You don’t hear very often men being sexually harrassed while riding their bike or that some women have unfortunately been the victim of men actually driving by and touching them and slapping them.  These are two examples I’ve just recentlly heard.

This past Saturday, myself and fellow bicycle enthusiast Marjorie Shavers were asked to speak at Bike Indy’s Summit.  Our topic:  Engaging Women.  We had a wonderful discussion and what I really appreciated was how many men stayed and were actively involved in this particular topic.  Men from the bike shop world to engineers to husbands and fathers.  They understand the importance of having more women be seen riding bikes and what that says about your city.

Do I want more people to ride, collectively?  Heck yes!  I know what riding a bike does to one’s life.  Do I want a platform for women to come together to hear about best practices, hear stories, meet others with similar situations – absolutely.  Women empower one another.  There’s a ripple effect that happens when women build upon each other’s strengths and experiences.  If you’re interested in joining us at the 2nd Annual ‘Ohio Women’s Bicycling Summit,’ you can register here: http://bikecleveland.memberlodge.org/events.  Consider biking has partnered with BikeCleveland this year for our registration so don’t get confused with the link :)  Thank you, BikeCleveland!

Quick details:  2nd Annual ‘OWBS’ Saturday, May 3; on-sitre registration and mingle 8am-9am.  Summit begins 9a-5p with post-celebratory libations to be had.

Location:  Strongwater Food & Spirits event space.  401 W. Town St. Columbus, Ohio  Find us on Facebook at:  facebook.com/ohiowomensbicyclingsummit

Summit details on topics and speaker bios can be found on the Facebook page as well as: http://www.considerbiking.org

Here a couple pics from last year’s Summit:

lisa and tammyThese two ladies:  Lisa Hinson and Tammy Krings are the Webster definition of ‘badass.’  Two incredible business women whom have taken a leading role in creating a female groundswell for one of the nations biggest Cancer Rides: Pelatonia.

summit attendees

A great shot from behind as the first two speakers, Lisa and Tammy set the stage.


I was thrilled when Marjorie accepted a speaker position for our first ‘OWBS.’  She was very nervous since she had just become re-aquainted with bicycling however, I felt that Marjorie embodies what the future face of bicycling should look like.  Now, she’s a beast to help engage more women to ride!  SO PROUD!


An ariel shot of most of the folks from the Summit.  Some were still eating, some had to leave back to their jobs, but this is a pretty great shot!


Lindsay Sherman of Trek will be giving a much more indepth and hands-on workshop that you can choose from at this year’s Summit.  We thought she had enough time last year.  We were definitely wrong.  Trial and error, right?  The attendees loved it.  She’ll have a great session this year and we’re excited she’s coming back!

Lastly, I wanted to post a snippet of all of our sponsors.  I’m so grateful at how excited and supportive ALL of these businesses have been.

2014 sponsors


Last week, I returned from a week long trip to Los Angeles.  I was awarded by the wonderful Alliance for Biking & Walking, a seat at their National ‘Open Streets’ Conference.  If any of you reading this don’t know what Open Streets is its an initiative where you temporarily close streets down to autos and open them up for the people.  During this time which is between 4-8hrs of street closure and usually on a Sunday, car traffic is replaced with people traffic.  People can bike, walk, skateboard, do yoga, dance, sit, and many other activities. Open Streets is an initiative I’ve been obsessed about for well over three years.  The first time I had heard about it and saw pictures, I immediately knew the benefits that a movement like this could produce for cities.

There have been well over 90 documented Open Streets here in the U.S. alone and global cities such Cape Town, Bogota, and Wellington hold ‘Open Streets’ initiatives of their own.  In Bogota, its such a way of life that ‘Ciclovia’ happens every Sunday.  What’ s so appealing about Open Streets?  Well, when we, as adults think of ‘playing’ in the streets, we think of only childhood memories.  We’ve become so engrained with streets ‘belonging’ to cars and that’s it.  WRONG.  Streets are under utilized.  They are so much more than parking and traffic.

How is an initiative like Open Streets different than say a festival or block party?   I’m glad you asked.  The core objectives are fundamentally different. Indeed, Open Streets are typically part of a broader city or organizational effort to encourage sustained physical activity, increase community engagement, and build support for the provision of broader transportation choices.

The National Open Streets Conference I attended brought experts from cities all over the U.S., Africa, and New Zealand to share experiences and best practices about their planning process of Open Streets.  Substanial data has been collected that shows how transformational holding an Open Streets in your city can be (feast yourself on delicious data here:  www.openstreetsproject.com)

I remember last week, Jeff Miller of the Alliance asked aloud, ‘raise your hand if this will be your first CicLAvia.’  A few of us (including myself) raised our hands.  Immediately, you heard the crowd make an ‘oooooooooooh’ remark meaning, you’re mind’s going to be blown.  My spunky response was, ‘no shit.’  I knew what I was prepared for.  CicLAvia is Los Angeles’ ‘Open Streets.’  The demand for CicLAvia is so high that L.A. now holds CicLAvia three times a year.  Their most recent route was six miles of street closure…. on the iconic Wilshire Blvd.  Let me repeat myself SIX MILES OF STREET CLOSURE… for six hours.

Los Angeles aka ‘Carmageddon’ / traffic sewer city of the U.S. has one of the most successful Open Streets movements in the world.  Over 100,000 people come and enjoy miles upon miles of car-free streets.  Being able to experience L.A.s CicLAvia was a dream for me.  My pictures didn’t do justice for the sights that I saw.  I think my favorite visions were of ALL of the families.  So many families out enjoying their city at a slow pace.   Nobody got angry.  No aggressive horns.  No cars intimidating you.  Strangers smiling and talking to one another.  Businesses along the route bolstering with people hopping off their bikes and supporting.  Music on corners, art being painted, and streets being alive.  

One of the most powerful acknowledgements happened.  My friend Marc said, ‘look around at all these families.  It’s not that there’s a deficiency of families not being able to afford bikes, its the fact that they don’t feel like there’s a safe place to ride.’  When he said that aloud, it slapped me in the face.  I saw families with four and five kids; all of them had bikes.  It was so true.  And I wonder, how that relates to here in Columbus.  There’s also a huge health undertone to this initiative.  Not only are these initiatives reimaging streets where people walk and bike as a form of transportation, but, there’s such an appeal to this ‘urban playground’ where people are out for hours being physically active.  I remember I thought I would be at CicLAvia for only 3-4 hours.  Nopers.  I was there from 830am -4p!  You take your time and stop along the route and engage in activities.  You talk to people.  You stop in the middle of the street and let the sun shine on your face, why?  Because you can!  

After my conference, I came back here and have been more dedicated than ever before of making Columbus Open Streets a reality in 2014.  I have the best momentum that I’ve had in all 2 1/2 years I’ve been trying to put this thing together.  I know that once Columbus gets a taste of the first Open Streets, the demand will be created and there WILL be more.  The beautiful thing about Open Streets is that it attracts such a wide variety of audiences coming from numerous neighborhoods where just like San Francisco’s ‘Sunday Streets’ this initiative can move from one community to another, showcasing the uniqueness of each neighborood.  This movement connects people.  

The city of Columbus has approved 1.4 miles of downtown street closure for the first Open Streets.  The tentative date; Sunday September 28th from 10a-2p.  While it’s not six miles, it’s a great first ‘Open Streets’ route.  Again, this first Open Streets will introduce both the people of this city and city staff to how effective and beneficial Open Streets are, and the subsequent ones to follow will be that much easier to organize.   I’ll keep y’all updated on Columbus’ progress.  Also, if any of you reading this have businessses that would be interested in supporting financially, message me.    

Enjoy the pics.

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Woman just cruisin’ down Wilshire.

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From left:  Erika, Misty, and Ryan.  My CicLAvia peepsphoto 3 (3)


Of course, dogs have a place in these kinds of initiatives!
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Walking herephoto 4 (10)

This was the cutest!  Father and daughter time.  My heart filled up seeing this sight time and time again.photo 3 (12)


So of course, I spoke to this dude.  He was awesome.  He comes to CicLAvia every time it happens.  He loves it and thinks it’s wonderful for the all the people.photo 4 (12)

One of the businesses filled up with people supporting local businessphoto 4 (18)

Right when CicLAvia started in the morning.  I caught this little guy.  photo 1 (12)


One of the many wonderful volunteers keeping order during the mandatory dismount zone.  photo 3 (9)

Just a bunch of people, waiting at the red light.  Wouldn’t you rather this than lines of cars?  Can’t get any more human than this!
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The dismount zone / pedestrian zone.  
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There’s me!  I was just so swoonie seeing all the kids having so much fun!  Growing up and being a part of this movement!photo 2 (7)

This image captures the essence of what streets can look like when you replace car traffic with beautiful people traffic.  photo 1 (6)


As far as the eye can see……  PEOPLE bringing the streets to life.

Yesterday, while waiting at a bus stop in German Village, I, as I usually do, watched interactions between cars and pedestrians.  At this four-way stop, I observed how unsafe and how NON-functional this intersection is for pedestrians.

Design should always be about US – the end user.  How we use it, it is comfortable, is it uncomfortable, is it functional for everyone.

We’ve given complete control and power over to autos.  Even as pedestrians, when we have the lit ‘walk’ sign and someone is about to cross in a crosswalk and a car approaches- getting ready to potentially turn right, they inch their way into the crosswalk. The pedestrian hesitates and then once they see the car stop (in the crosswalk) the pedestrians gives the ‘thank you for allowing me to cross’ gesture.  They should never have to ‘thank’ the driver for allowing them to cross during a lit ‘walk’ as this time is deemed PEDESTRIAN CROSSING.  But, we’ve allowed this and we need to start taking it back.

I watch so many pedestrians be inconvenienced while crossing in a designated crosswalk b/c a driver has stopped beyond the ‘stop bar’ and into the crosswalk, or, the street has been designed for cars to excessively speed.  Pedestrians stay silent and remain inconvenienced.  There’s such an overwhelming dominance of letting cars overpower our streets and our safe places to cross that I’ve even been honked at, while crossing in a crosswalk.  I’m sure someone reading has as well.

The three photos below show poor and unsafe design for pedestrians at a four-way stop in German Village.  The first image.  Take note of where the stop sign has been placed, the stop bar for where cars are ‘suppose’ to stop and the crossing ramp.  The stop bar should be IN FRONT of the stop sign a few feet so that FIRST, the car stops and yields to pedestrians and second, the pedestrian has safe space to cross the street.  This is unsafe and poorly designed.  It also creates confusion on the pedestrian end.  The pedestrian waiting to cross should always have the right-of-way.  This image gives the perception that since the stop bar is ahead of the pedestrian ramp that the car has the right-of-way.  Wrong.  And as you can see with the car stopped here, it’s completely overtaken the pedestrian crossing space.


Image two:  This is the stop sign looking west from that four-way stop.  Notice the stop bar that’s INSIDE the space where pedestrians cross.  This is an easy collision between a driver and pedestrian.  I’m sure the stop sign is placed where it currently is due to the lack of sight from the right side however, all cars must stop here.  The stop sign and the stop bar can be placed back a few feet to create safe crossing for the pedestrians.


This third image is just plain lazy and dangerous.

Instead of the stop sign having its own pole, it’s slapped on the utility pole.  Look at the placement of the stop bar.  The utility pole is encroaching the ramp of where pedestrians are diverted to cross.  I cross this portion of the four-way stop, ALL the time and I’m angered by it.  It’s a lawsuit waiting to happen.  Again, this kind of poor design is not functional for strollers, people walking their dogs, etc.  This.  Is. Dangerous.  It also puts forth the perception that cars are first, pedestrians are second.  Wrong.


This is just one four-way stop intersection.  I’m bringing this to light to show that design must be usable, SAFE, and functional for ALL users of the road.  Think about other places in your neighborhood that have been designed based up creating comfort FIRST for the driver and THEN for the human being.

Fish swim.  Birds fly.  People walk.  We are ALL pedestrians before we are drivers.  We MUST be more vocal when it comes to safe spaces to walk and cross.  The images below are just a few images of how many cars stop INSIDE crosswalk, potentially creating unsafe and dangerous space, in the space that’s ‘suppose’ to be safe for us to cross.  This is a BIG reason why so many ppl cross at mid-block (its safer).

Next time you’re crossing at a crosswalk, take note of where cars are stopping, and if they are in YOUR pedestrian ‘safe’ space, educate them!  Next time you’re driving, I hope you properly stop and provide safe distance for pedestrians to cross.  And take a look at where other cars are stopping.





The pedestrian is IN THE ROAD crossing!











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