Two-Wheel Evolution

13 Dec 2012, Posted by admin in Packages,Two Bank, No Comments. Tagged , , , , , , ,

Two-Wheel Evolution

Local enthusiasts and the city have collaborated to make Cincinnati a much more welcoming place for cyclists than it was just a few years ago.

Story, photos and video by Jordan Horras and Jack Ellenberger

Greasy fingers string a metal chain onto a BMX bike. The mechanic works feverishly, eager to finish before sundown. With a final check, he completes the tune-up, saunters out of the workshop, hops on the bike and cruises into the dusk.

The mechanic is a teenage boy. He’s one of more than 100 owners of MOBO Bicycle Cooperative, a Northside organization that is part repair shop, part training school, part store. MOBO, at 1415 Knowlton Ave., doesn’t have mechanics that fix bikes. Instead, it provides tools and training for people to do the work themselves. It’s also a source of used bikes. It’s an example of an organization that’s been behind the local boom in cycling over the past five years.

Organizations like MOBO, the Cincinnati Cyclists Club and Queen City Bike – and efforts by the city’s Bicycle Transportation Division – have contributed to the city’s growing reputation as a place where cycling is not only welcomed but encouraged.

MOBO is a workshop, hangout and headquarters for cyclists in the city. (Photo by Jack Ellenberg / NMB)

This past July, the League of American Bicyclists recognized Cincinnati as a bronze-level bike-friendly community. Among the reasons the city received the designation were its enforcement of traffic standards for cyclist, its development of recreational cycling events, and its promotion of cycling education.

Jim Coppick and Mel McVay, coordinators for Cincinnati’s Bicycle Transportation Division, have been the forefront of the city’s efforts to improve the local cycling environment. The division, once a one-man office, now has teams of people.

The office collaborated with Mobo and other organizations on a plan that included the installation of bike lanes on city streets and the recognition of bike-friendly locations. It was behind the effort to put sharrows – simple bicycle emblems accompanied by chevrons – on busy city thoroughfares like Central Parkway, encouraging motorists to share the road with cyclists. It helped establish bicycle trails along Mill Creek near Spring Grove Avenue. And it helped introduce bike-friendly destinations by providing custom-made bike racks to businesses seeking cycling traffic.

The division’s annual events calendar continues to grow. Hundreds of activities and events are available for riders of all experience levels.

Cyclists themselves have contributed to the local boom. MOBO offers dozens of events that bring the community together for the good of bike and rider. This includes, but is not limited to, outreach programs for neighborhood schools and bike-safety lessons for grade-school children.

Mobo, founded in memory of local cyclist Justin “MOBO” Morioka, operates as a cooperative – anyone can become a part owner for a $20 annual membership fee. That money gives owners access to the tools, bicycle parts and the guidance needed for servicing bikes. For those without their own set of wheels, the fee allows the opportunity to look through a large selection of used bikes available for adoption in an oversized shed in the back. Owners can check out tools, find parts, learn how to operate their bikes and learn how to refurbish damaged parts.

Places like MOBO empower those who want own a bike. Along with this empowerment comes the willingness to adapt and alter bikes. For some, a normal bike just will not do. Double-decker tall bikes, recumbent bikes and tandems can now be seen rolling along the city streets.

Queen City Bike, a non-profit organization that promotes bicycling in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, has taken on bike safety in a major way by starting the “Queen City Blinkies” program. Its effectiveness is in its simplicity. The program encourages bike safety by giving out 1,000 front and rear lights for bikes so that they can be easily seen at night.

Ghost Bikes are stark memorials for riders killed by automobiles. (Photo by Jack Ellenberg / NMB)

The importance of safety is made apparent through the recent installment of Ghost Bikes in Cincinnati. Ghost Bikes are somber memorials to cyclists who have been killed by automobiles while riding. The memorials can be found across the world, but are new to Cincinnati. Ghost bikes have been erected in Bond Hill, the East End and Harrison for four individuals who lost their lives riding.

Cincinnati continues to roll towards becoming one of the nation’s more bike-friendly cities. Local enthusiasts and the city say their goal is to make the city a place where those who travel on two wheels or four can do so safely. To them, the co-existence of bikes and cars on the road is not only necessary part of urban life, but desirable.

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