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It’s been five months since my last public confession ūüôā ¬†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

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

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The beginning stages.parklet progress

 

Setting up before the big ID2014 weekend.

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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.

 

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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 ūüôā ¬†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.

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

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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!

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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!

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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

 

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Yesterday was a bit bittersweet. ¬†It was the last day for ‘Girls in Gear’ with this group of incredible girls. ¬†They have just been the sweetest, most thoughtful and super enthusiased. ¬†They have all been so kind to one another and have complimented and helped one another through the program.

The speaker / community leader that spoke with them yesterday is a dear friend of mine and life coach – Naila Chauncey Hughes. ¬†Through the program and getting to know these girls, Naila was the one that kept repeating in my mind to meet and inspire these girls. ¬†And, she did! ¬†‘The bike allows you to go at your own pace and that’s how you need live your life – at YOUR own pace and nobody elses.’ ¬†She engaged the girls in a way that they all could understand. ¬†I was inspired. ¬†I’ve only been in Nai’s presence a couple of times when she’s doing her thing and yesterday, she just reconfirmed how much she loves what she does and how good she is at it. ¬†These girls are still sponges when it comes to opportunities and I want ‘Girls in Gear’ to be this eight-week tsunami of opportunities and experiences that they all soak in and hopefully use throughout their lives. ¬†Thank you, Nai!

After, the girls received their bikes, we practiced the correct way to lock up your bike and then we took one last group ride together through the neighborhood. ¬†We also rode on W. Broad St! ¬†If any of you reading this are familiar with Broad St, it’s an inner-city highway that runs East and West. ¬†I pulled the girls over before getting on Broad St. and asked them how they felt and they WERE READY TO CONQUER! ¬†One of my graduates from the first round of ‘Girls in Gear’ Keagan took the very back of the group while I was in front. ¬†She was fantastic at being the end leader ūüôā

I’m currently recruiting for the next cycle and will be heading back to the Hilltop YMCA as they would love to have another round of ‘Girls in Gear.’ ¬†The girls from this round are all ready excited to come back and help mentor the upcoming round of young girl leaders.

Enjoy the pics.

Be safe and keep riding

graduates 3 graduates graduates 9 graduates 2

 

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Yes, I know I’m overdue for a post. ¬†Here it is: ¬†‘Girls in Gear’ round 2. ¬†One of the summer program locations for the awesome ‘Girls in Gear’ is Gladden Community House. ¬†I fell in love with this place a couple of years ago. ¬†The kids that spend time here are full of love and big, huge smiles (most of them :)).

When I presented my program over there, they jumped at it and LOVED the idea. ¬†So, since June 10th, I’ve been over there empowering five young girls and let me tell you, it’s been incredible. ¬†These girls absolutely have fallen in love with ‘Girls in Gear.’ ¬†Thus far, we have taught the girls: ¬†bicycle safety, basic bicycle mechanics, nutrition education, and they are currently working on the ‘community urband design’ portion of the program. ¬†Monday, we performed a walk-audit of the neighborhood and they were extremely engaged.

I feel truly humbled to have created this program. ¬†Not only is this a one of a kind program, I think what contributes to making ‘Girls in Gear’ so incredible are all of the female professionals helping me make it awesome. ¬†They understand and believe that more young girls need the confidence and need to feel that they can pursue any career that they want. ¬†These young girls need the motivation and positive reinforcement by adults that they can have engineer careers, that they can use their bikes as main modes of transportation, and that should something break on their bikes – they have full ability to fix it themselves.

“Girls in Gear’ is so much more than just a ‘bicycling program.’ ¬†It’s motivation. ¬†It’s self-reliance building. ¬†It’s self-esteem building. ¬†It’s teaching them technical skills and healthy decision making at an early and cruical age where they can begin a pattern of lifelong decision making that’ll influence the rest of their lives. ¬†‘Girls in Gear’ is about mentorship and investment in these young leaders.

Here are a few photos of the current ‘Girls in Gear’ at Gladden Community House in the Franklinton neighborhood.

Be safe and keep riding!

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The girls decorated helmets and explained why it’s important to wear helmets when riding

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Kelly of ‘Green Bean Delivery’ taught two ‘Nutrition Education’ sessions to the girls. ¬†Lots of yummy samples came along with learning!

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Anna of ROLL going over the parts of the bicycle.  In Session 2, the girls remembered and could recite 95% of the bicycle terminology

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Session 1 Рthe girls learned and changed multiple flat tires all by themselves.  Pretty awesome to watch

GiG Gladden 4

Session 2 of bike mechanics.  The girls practicing release brakes and tires; both front and rear.

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Team work!!

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Emily of Paradise Garage

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Emily and Anna both showing the girls how to maintain and clean your bikes.

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Bicycle Safety / Group riding day!

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Aren’t they beauty’s!

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Mimi of Trek Bicycles came out and helped out.  We did a couple parking lot drills with signage and then rode as a group through Franklinton

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Seriously, how beautiful is this image!!!

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Session 1 of ‘Community Urban Design.’ ¬†The girls are comparing what makes a ‘friendly’ street and what makes an ‘un-friendly’ street

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The girls looking and planning out our ‘walkability’ study around the neighorhood.

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The incredible Amanda Golden (City & Regional Planner) came and taught the first session of ‘Community Urban Design’ to the girls. ¬†P.S. ¬†the girls LOVED their helmets I got them so much that they showed up on Monday wearing them. ¬†They literally didn’t take them off. ¬†Case and point above ūüôā

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Standing and discussing the eye-sore and ‘uncomfortable’ feeling when passing in front of vacant homes. ¬†Unfortunately, this is a common visual in the Franklinton neighborhood.

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Amanda and the girls rating their walk/neighborhood with a ‘walk audit’.

 

 

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So, finally the clouds parted – the sun was shining and the temperature wasn’t bone chilling. ¬†This past Saturday was our winter Tweed ride ¬†which was a fantastic success. ¬†I’m guessing there were close to forty riders eagerly wanting to get back on their bikes. ¬†Prior to the Tweed ride, I hadn’t ridden my bike in five days b/c of the ice still coating the side streets of where I live.

Beginning at Cup o’ Joe in the Short North we then hit off to Franklinton Cycle Works. ¬†We hung out, I took more photos, and had coffee and fruit that was donated by Green Bean Delivery. ¬†On to German Village we rode. ¬†Every Tweed ride, we have a group photo at Schiller Park. ¬†This group photo was one of my favorites taken b/c of the snow covered grounds. ¬†It set a nice tone to our ride and of course, the picture.

Thanks to everyone who joined in on the ride.  I think everyone had a wonderful time.  One of the things I absolutely love about bikes and social bike rides is how it brings people together and how it creates friendships.  I notice that immediately and it puts a smile on my face.

Another Tweed ride will happen in the Spring so stay tuned.  Enjoy the photos

Be safe and keep riding.

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Tweed winter

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Its been three weeks since my last confession. ¬†Oops, I mean post ūüôā ¬†Sorry ya’ll. ¬†I’ve been uber busy with three big projects and a handful of little ones. ¬†I can’t help but to have my hands in as much possible – all things bikes.

One of those little projects is, beside my monthly ‘2 Wheels & Heels’ ladies ride, I thought it would be really beneficial to organize intimate rides with ladies that can make it, and experience current infrastructure that’s already laid on ground.

For a couple years now, I continue to reinforce to our city engineers that when bicycle infrastructure is designed, they need to keep in mind – women and children. ¬†If you design a street with women and children in mind, they will ride it and so will everyone else. ¬†If you do not, then the street needs to be redone until this can happen. ¬†City streets are viewed as ‘safe’ when you have families, women, and children safely riding in them – with big smiles on their faces.

My first intimate ride was the Hilltop Bike Lanes.  I ride these all the time b/c my schools are located in the Frankliton and Hilltop area.

I received great feedback from the eight ladies that rode with me. ¬†Signage in the intersections of the entrance / exit ramps by the freeways, better guidance from bike lane to sharrows, green paint usage, etc. ¬†Eight ladies that ride when they can. ¬†No professionals in planning, bicycle advocacy, engineering – just eight of the many ladies I’ve come to know that love to ride and want our streets to be safer and equipped with better / more smartly designed infrastructure. ¬†Some of these women have kids and while they themselves would ride some of the infrastructure in some places, they would never bring their kids to ride on some of these streets. ¬†We need to change that.

We need to have streets designed for EVERYONE in mind. ¬†Our next ride will be Tamarack Circle and the infrastructure that’s been recently built there. ¬†If you’re interested in partaking, write a comment or send me an email. ¬†My email address is under the ‘About’ tab of my blog.

 

I thank the ladies that participated in this ride and look forward to the next ride with another VERY useful and open discussion.

Be safe and keep riding.

 

 

 

 

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So yesterday was a good day to be on my bike. ¬†Well, every day is a good day (unless its super cold and my toes and fingers go numb) but I captured random things happening on the bicycle as you’ll see below. ¬†Hope you all enjoyed the BEAUTIFUL sunny day we had yesterday. ¬†I finished my Safe Routes to School at Sullivant Elem. and then sun bathed over at Scioto Mile until my 5pm meeting.

This lady was commuting down Front:

Lockin up during the wind storm!

Enjoying the Mile:

Looking at these bike riders, I was going for getting the depth of the rider in the background as the two riders were resting in the foreground.

This rider was rockin’! ¬†Talk about towin’ your bike… ¬†while riding a bike! ¬†AND he managed to give me a thumbs up! ¬†Impressive to say the least! ūüôā

How awesome is this photo below? ¬†I was literally riding down Rich St. and I caught this guy proposing to his g/f. ¬†I was meant to capture this b/c as you can see there is a ROCKIN’ tandem in the background. ¬†Totally meant to be! ¬†I hope they’re very happy.

Some good captured moments in the city via two-wheels.

Keep riding!

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