Bike Evangelist: Nern Ostendorf

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NERN OSTENDORF, the new executive director of Queen City Bike, is a “bounce-back” native—a 2005 Walnut Hills grad who has returned to town in hopes of bringing the bike-friendly flavor of cities like Portland and Denver to Cincinnati. Hills be damned.

The city has changed. I used to bike around with my dad when I was in high school, and I’d get run off the road. It’s a lot better than it was. The city has a bike plan—and they’re actually doing it! We’re going to be working with City Council this year to get in more bike lanes, more bike sharrows, and more alliances with public transit.

Queen City Bike’s biggest goals are to make cycling more accessible, safer, and more enjoyable. Because you’re not going to force people to bicycle. You want it to be fun.

As a student at Northwestern University, I really saw the transformative power of alternative transportation. In an urban environment where there’s so much congestion, a bicycle is the most freeing thing you can have.

On the west side, there are lots of really big roads with lots of fast, high-volume traffic, and they’re all funneling downhill toward the highway. There aren’t that many bike commuters because it’s kind of treacherous. We haven’t come up with a grand plan; west-siders, I would love to hear from you! 

Visiting a city that’s bike-friendly, you understand how everything links together when you are navigating this little machine around. That’s the beauty of it.

A lot of people find the geography here really intimidating: The hills are a challenge. But you can be strategic about how to get where you want to go. And before you know it, your thighs are stronger.

Two Wheeling
Ostendorf has a lightweight Nishiki 10-speed and a mountain bike she’s retrofitting for commuting. “I’ll put some fenders on it and some pretty hefty tires,” she says, “and not worry about speed and efficiency when I have to climb up nasty hills or ride in the rain.”

Alternative Transportation
She also owns a pickup truck. “I only use it when I have to go outside the I-275 loop,” Ostendorf explains. And it comes in handy if she needs to take a disabled bike to the shop.

Rules of the Road
A 2010 city ordinance makes it illegal to drive or park a car in any of Cincinnati’s 8.7 miles of bike lanes. Also, motorists must give riders three feet passing clearance, and cars turning left must yield to bikes approaching from the opposite direction.

Check Your Mirror
Commit any of the aforementioned infractions (or “door” a rider) and you could be fined $150 to $500.

Photograph by Ryan Kurtz.
Originally published in the February 2012 issue.

 

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