works employees put cars in back seat
Program provides bikes for them to ride
The Idaho Statesman
Stuck in a creeping lane of downtown Boise traffic two months
ago, Jennie Rylee asked herself a question: Why drive when I
Rylee was sick of driving to meetings five minutes
away, tired of the long parking searches and fed up with stop-and-go
traffic that she frequently encountered while on the job as
the Solid Waste Program coordinator for the city's Public Works
Now she's peddling her problems away.
Rylee spearheaded the DASH bike program that began
this week, which enables Public Works employees to ride city-owned
bikes to downtown meetings and appointments.
The bike program is an attempt to set an example
for the rest of the city and will hopefully catch on among city
employees and local residents, said Chuck Mickelson, Public
Before DASH, which stands for Downtown Area Short
Hop, Public Works employees checked out one of the 10 available
department vehicles to travel for work outside of city hall.
Rylee hopes DASH now will encourage employees to opt instead
for the bikes.
"Biking around downtown is as easy as pie,"
she said. "Even a fat old lady like me can do it."
Public Works has two bicycles one the department
purchased for $60 and one Rylee donated that are available
during work hours for department employees. Within two weeks,
seven additional bikes will be donated for employee use, complete
with helmets and padlocks, Rylee said.
Although no Public Works employees have used the
bikes yet, many have begun scheduling time to use them.
"I think we're all excited about the bikes; in fact, I
just got done scheduling a time to use one," said Johanna
Luce, a Public Works employee.
And the new program has caught the attention of
Boise's mayor and City Council members, who praise the department's
"Every person on a bicycle is one fewer person
adding to traffic congestion and smog," Mayor Dave Bieter
has said. He said the transportation alternative is good for
the environment and for physical fitness, too.
Not everyone shares Bieter's optimism, however.
"It's a good idea, but with only a few bikes,
I just don't see (DASH) cutting down traffic," said Lyndi
Ward, a downtown manager at Brick Oven Bistro.
Other cities have tried to implement community
bike programs similar to DASH, but many have struggled to find
success amid bike maintenance and theft problems.
Ken Rosskopf, founder of Decatur Yellow Bikes
in Decatur, Ga., ran a nonprofit organization that reconditioned
bikes, painted them yellow and put them in designated racks
called "yellow bike stations" throughout Decatur.
The bikes remained unlocked and were free for anyone older than
16 to use. But after 100 bikes were stolen within a matter of
months, Rosskopf said his company had to begin charging people
for use and offering incentives for the bike's return.
"For (DASH) to work, the city of Boise is going to have
to make sure that the bikes are locked up and that they receive
proper maintenance," Rosskopf said.
Rylee said that the problems encountered by other
city bike programs shouldn't be an issue. The DASH program is
for Public Works employees, not the general public.
"Bikes, helmets and padlocks are checked
out through the computer and won't be left out for just anyone
to use," Rylee said.