Consider Consider Biking.

Consider Consider Biking.

The advocacy organization, which recently opened an office in Clintonville, traces its origins to late 1990, when a small group of bicycling enthusiasts met to form the Central Ohio Bicycle Advocacy Coalition, or COBAC.

The name was changed to the softer, gentler Consider Biking about two years ago, around the time executive director Jeff Stephens became the first full-time staff member.

The rebranding, Stephens said last week in Consider Biking's new headquarters at 4041 N. High St., was intended to dispel the notion that all who advocate for cycling as a viable alternative to the automobile are "anti-car, green, Granola-crunching zealots."

It was also, he said, meant to impart a message to the anti-car, green, Granola-crunching zealots in the cycling community.

"Our constituency is every board and diverse," Stephens said. "Sometimes people in the bicycling community forget that."

The mission statement of Consider Biking states that its purpose is simply "to get more people bicycling in central Ohio." That means people who ride for fitness, to go on tours, to attack mountains, to race, for recreation, because they're kids "and then this really growing segment of the utilitarian commuter cyclists," said Stephens, who spent two decades in the nonprofit health industry before taking his current post in March 2008.

"I feel like our tagline is: ride bikes kind of cradle to grave," said Jody Dzuranin, operations manager for Consider Biking and one of what is now a five-member staff.

"We don't need to just use bicycles until we get out driver's license at 16," she said.

For Northland resident David Roseman, current treasurer of the Consider Biking board of directors, the new name works on many different levels, not only encouraging people to consider riding but also the reasons for doing so.

"Want to be more healthy? Consider biking," Roseman said. "Want to lose weight? Consider biking. Want to help the environment?

"We're promoting alternate means of transportation and active means of transportation."

Roseman has been on the board of directors since well back into the COBAC days.

"I've always liked to bicycle," he said. "I don't just want to complain; I want to do something about it. I met some other folks who were doing the same and got actively involved by getting out there and advocating on behalf of not just myself but our neighborhood, our community."

Roseman said he has recently attended Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission meetings about proposed improvements to Westerville Road north and south of state Route 161, advocating for bicycle lanes and sidewalks to be part of the mix. He was gratified, Roseman said, to find that many others offering their comments likewise felt those were necessary pieces of the puzzle.

Even though Consider Biking has grown from a single paid person to five in a little over two years and moved into office space for the first time, Stephens admitted last week, "We're sort of behind."

The United States has between 150 and 160 groups with missions similar to that of Consider Biking, he said. Many have been around much longer and many also boast considerably larger staffs. Portland's has 17 and Chicago's 30. The advocacy organization in Washington, D.C., has a dozen employees.

"There's a reason that those place are 10 years ahead of us, because we came up with staff two and a half years ago," Stephens said. "But we're moving real fast right now."

"We're at the right place at the right time," Roseman said.

"We're excited to be building this professionally staffed organization that, quite frankly, Columbus deserves," Stephens said.

In his statement of purpose for the organization on Consider Biking's website, Stephens is quoted as saying:

"World class communities have world class accommodations for moving people by means other than a car. The central Ohio community needs the efforts of an organization like Consider Biking at this time.

"Given our citizens' concern for health and sustainability, and the rising cost of operating a motor vehicle, the environment for our growth and success is ripe. The momentum we've generated as a trusted resource for objective information has drawn many to our cause of making central Ohio more friendly for bicyclists.

Our overarching goal is to increase the number of cyclists on the road. We strive to increase the mode share for bicycles by increasing the number of trips made by bicycle to workplace, shopping, errands and for recreation. We are especially keen to increase the number of children that ride a bicycle to school and other activities.

"Of course we seek to increase the safety of bicyclists via developing comprehensive bicycling networks and complimentary education and encouragement programs. We seek to implement unified policies across all jurisdictions in the region and increase partnerships and stakeholders to develop and leverage the resources necessary to effectively carry out our mission.

"Lastly, we seek to increase the sustainability of the organization via sound management practices and development of volunteer leadership, membership and funding sources."