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Q&A: Columbus cyclists share advice on getting around

Move-in week has just passed and thousands of students new and old have descended upon Columbus to begin Autumn Semester at Ohio State. With this comes new challenges for getting to class, around campus and around Columbus.

Urban cycling brings with it a whole new world of hazards and laws that make it for the large part completely different than cycling in America’s suburbs. Three Columbus cyclists offered their advice to Ohio State students.

Credit: Julian Fogliett

Columbus resident Luke Avniam poses with his bicycle. Credit: Julian Fogliett | For The Lantern

Luke Avniam, 25, is a bike delivery rider for Jimmy John’s.

The Lantern: So you work as a bike messenger for Jimmy John’s, how did you start working as a messenger?

Luke Avniam: I started out working as a car driver, however one day I crashed my car and after pressure from friends began working on a bike. It’s been 18 months now since I’ve owned a car.

TL: What was it like learning to navigate the city on bike?

LA: I already knew my way around campus … (but) navigating by bike made me notice the elevation more. High Street seems to be pretty flat, until you have to pedal your way everywhere.

TL: What would you like to say to anyone new to city riding?

LA: Make sure to take your lane, and not ride to slow. If you’re off to the side and moving at a slow speed, cars are more likely to pass without enough space leading you to getting clipped. Also always be aware of your surroundings, if you’re not careful you can injure yourself and others.

TL: Are there any final things you’d like to share with new city riders?

LA: Always look both ways and always wear a helmet, the streets are unpredictable and you never know what’s going to happen, so just wear a helmet.

Credit: Julian Fogliett

Ohio State alumna Katrina Kokolari suggests wearing a helmet while riding. Credit: Julian Fogliett | For The Lantern

Katrina Kokolari, 25, is an OSU alumna and has been commuting by bike for 9 years.

The Lantern: What got you into cycling?

Katrina Kokolari: I moved out of my house without a car. Needing a mode of transportation and new to campus living, I decided to get a bike.

TL: What were some of the initial challenges you encountered while using a bike as your sole means of transportation?

KK: I didn’t know what to look for when riding a bike, and ended up getting a road bike which had a lot of stuff that broke. Having only been on a cheap mountain bike, I had a hard time learning about the stuff that needed fixed. I decided to go to Third Hand Bike co-op and they taught me what I needed to know.

TL: What did you learn there?

KK: Third Hand doesn’t fix bikes; they teach you how to fix and maintain them yourself while offering cheap parts to use on your bike. It’s much easier to get into cycling if you go there.

TL: What is the scariest thing you’ve experienced while on a bike?

KK: One night I was driving and a car began following me. I turned a corner and they caught up and began throwing beer cans at me; eventually I was able to get away.

TL: How do you suggest dealing with active threats on a Bike?

Katrina: Don’t be afraid to call 911 if someone is following you. It gives a record of what’s going on and can make harassers back off if they see a phone.

TL: What additional tips would you give to any new city cyclists?

KK: Wear a helmet and get USB rechargeable Lights. Visibility is key in the city. If you can add a basket and rack to your bike as it makes it infinitely more useful. Also make sure you get a u-lock, the cables don’t work and your bike will get stolen. For girls, don’t let the testosterone-charged field turn you away. So many friends I have are a direct result of bikes. It really does make your life better.

Credit: Julian Fogliett

Esther Dwyer, an Ohio State adviser, recommends riders study up on bicycle laws. Credit: Julian Fogliett | For The Lantern

Esther Dwyer is an adviser for OSU’s environment and natural resourcess scholars program.

The Lantern: So you’ve been riding carless for 4 years now, how did that happen?

Esther Dwyer: I was working for Roll, a bike shop in Columbus, and had always thought about switching over to a car-free lifestyle. I was interested in the challenge and eventually decided to give it a try.

TL: What were some initial challenges you faced transitioning from cars to bikes?

ED: Because bikes are people-powered, you have to think about your body in a different way. Diet becomes more tailored to giving you the energy you need to get everywhere and you have to be prepared for all the types of weather. Additionally, it was difficult to find gear suited to female commuters, as much of the equipment is built for the male body.

TL: What are some tips you’d like to give about city riding?

ED: Make sure you know the bike laws. Knowing your place in the city will give you more confidence to take lanes and keep yourself safe. Always make sure to adhere to all the rules of the road as it creates mutual respect between cars and cyclists. Make sure you stay on the road. A lot of accidents are caused by cyclists on the sidewalks trying to cross pedestrian crossings as well.


  1. I would like to make my suburban commute by bike to work every day. My 15-mile commute takes one hour by car. It would take only about 30 minutes longer by bike. Traffic, trucks, and 12-lane highways keep me on four wheels.

    • Depending on where your located at you should check maps for local bike routs to take as they are often safer. The US has been working on producing bike routes along the railways for awhile and they do a great job at interconnecting the nation.

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