HCP Partner Spotlight: Ride On! Community Ride Leaders Part 1 | Jenna Amerine & Ira Cross

HCP Members Participate in Multi-Day Yay Bikes! Community Ride Leader Training and Create Ride On! An Inclusive Bicycle Advocacy and Education Group 

By spring of 2018, the Healthy Community Partnership was about to have our training wheels taken off as we set out to begin our journey towards creating a healthier, more equitable Mahoning Valley.

Transportation can be a significant community asset, but it, or the lack of it, can be a significant liability. Making sure that people of all ages and abilities in the Mahoning Valley are able to get where they need to go safely, no matter how they are traveling, is a priority for the Healthy Community Partnership. This approach centered on mobility justice and public safety also provides opportunities to examine and espouse the benefits of active transportation, which “is any self-propelled, human-powered mode of transportation, such as walking or bicycling.”

Several of our partners are involved in active transportation advocacy for complete streets, or streets that “are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Complete Streets make it easy to cross the street, walk to shops, and bicycle to work.” 

Though popular in many cities, bicycling is not a preferred mode of transportation for many residents in the Mahoning Valley. According to research completed by Eastgate Regional Council of Governments, less than 1% of residents report bicycling to work. However, many residents who are without vehicle access for a number of reasons, not the least of which is because they are not yet of legal age to drive, rely on bicycling to get to work, to the store, to the playground, and to get home. Members of HCP believe that streets should designed to accommodate everyone. While we continue to work with community partners to encourage investment in policies and projects to ensure pedestrian safety, partners decided to demonstrate how to ride safely, that it is possible to ride a bicycle for short trips to work, to the store, to the park and home again. 

Enter Yay Bikes! Yay Bikes! is a Columbus-based bicycle education and advocacy organization. Members of HCP who had been involved in bicycling and active transportation advocacy efforts decided to step up to become “Community Ride Leaders” and participate in an intensive, milti-day interactive training with Yay Bikes! Experts. This training gave the four first Mahoning Valley Community Ride Leaders knowledge of current Ohio bicycle law and the skills and confidence to organize community rides of all sizes—from one to one hundred—to get people excited to ride, safely.

In celebration of Bike Month, the HCP May Partner Spotlight will introduce you to each of the four Community Ride Leaders, who are also the founding members of a new, local bicycle education and advocacy effort: Ride On!

Jenna Amerine riding on the bike trail through Trumbull County Metroparks

Jenna Amerine, Grants Coordinator, Trumbull County Combined Health District

Why do you ride and/or why did  you participate in the Yay Bikes! Community Ride Leader Training?

I ride my bicycle because I enjoy being outside and physically active.  I participated in the Yay Bikes! Training because I wanted to know how to safely ride on the streets and how to properly teach others and encourage residents of Trumbull County to use their bicycle as a mode of transportation.

Why should others consider riding, especially for transportation?

Others should consider riding their bicycles for transportation to promote active transportation, save money on gas, and help improve air quality conditions.  Additionally, while making trips on your bicycle you are promoting it to others and being physically active.

What can we do as a community to support current and future riders?

As a community we can support current and future riders by knowing the laws and safety measures for those bicycling and those driving vehicles on the roads.  Encourage residents to ride their bicycle to get to work, go to the grocery store, or while making other errands.  I hope by riding my bicycle, both recreationally and for transportation, that others will be encouraged to use their bicycles more often and learn how to safely ride their bicycles on the streets.

Ira Cross rides for fun and fitness.

Ira Cross, Front Office Specialist, Mahoning County Veteran Service Commission

Why do you ride and/or why did  you participate in the Yay Bikes! Community Ride Leader Training?

The moment I started riding a bicycle I never stopped because of the freedom that biking gives me, the health & wellness aspect of this hobby was realized later in life.  I continue to ride because of the freedom but really enjoy the social aspects of riding with others.  Bicycling is a safe and fun way to explore your community by yourself or in small groups and get to know your neighbors, neighborhood, and city in a more up close and personal way. 

I participated in the Yay Bikes training because I wanted to connect with more like-minded people and to advance my ability to teach and show others the freedom of safely riding on paths and on the roadway.   

Why should others consider riding, especially for transportation?

One should consider riding, especially for transportation, is mainly because of the sights you see on your way to work that you miss while driving.  Other benefits include a little physical activity before/after work to get your heart rate elevated and mind ready for the day.  You are also helping the environment by not polluting the air with your automobile. 

Others seeing you on your bicycle helps to promote a healthy community.

What can we do as a community to support current and future riders?

As a small community/city, it would be nice to see bicycling promoted, more bike lanes and repair stations.  Mill Creek Park and surrounding parks/libraries can be recognized as safe and secure places to ride to and from throughout the city (mapped) connecting with existing paths.  

Bicycling is safe in these times where safe distancing is recognized while still socializing in person.

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