Monday, March 31, 2008

shared bike program

I got this item from a local bike e-mail list. Great news!
Field Museum launches Shared Bike Program for employees
Bikes intended for meetings, errands, exercise.
Will reduce pollution and save money.

CHICAGO—The Field Museum will add to its already extensive "green" record by launching an innovative Shared Bike Program on March 31, 2008 – just in time for spring.

The Museum is already a trendsetter for employee bicycle use. It encourages employees to bicycle to work by providing showers and bike parking, including a large, secure, indoor bike-parking facility. As a result, more than 100 of the Museum's approximately 575 full-time employees bike to work on a regular basis. In fact, for the past two years the Field Museum has won the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation's Bicycle Commuter Challenge for its category (large not-for-profit organizations).

Initially, the Museum's Shared Bike Program will make three bicycles available March through November for any employee to use during daylight hours. Two of the initial three bicycles are Cannondale police bikes that were no longer needed by Museum security forces. More bicycles will be added depending on demand.

Employees may use the bikes for personal or work-related reason – whether to run an errand, attend a meeting away from the museum, or just take a spin. The Museum expects to save money with this program by reducing its expenditures for taxis, parking and messenger services.

"The Field Museum's Shared Bike Program is an ideal way to encourage more people to get on bikes," said Rob Sadowsky, executive director of the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation. "Companies that encourage their employees to ride bikes end up saving money on health-insurance costs. Plus, they get healthier, happier employees."

The Shared Bike Program is the brainchild of Robert Weiglein, exhibitions designer at the Museum. "One day last summer, I was in a taxi rushing to an appointment in the North Loop when it occurred to me that I would rather be on a bike," he said. "I also thought it would help The Field Museum be more `green'."

Weiglein submitted a proposal for the program. After it was approved, he repaired the bikes and added racks, locks and puncture-resistant tires.

Other "green" initiatives at The Field Museum include:

- Take One Step, a program that encourages Field Museum visitors to purchase shares of carbon credits to offset the greenhouse gases created by their trip to the Museum;

- Extensive solar panels on its roof;

- A Renewable Energy Vehicle that runs on filtered waste vegetable oil and travels to schools, street fairs, and other public events teaching people about renewable energy;

- Widespread use of energy-efficient fluorescent lighting;

- Extensive recycling of paper and cardboard; printer cartridges; cell phones; eye glasses; analog and digital media devices; batteries; etc.;

- A new heating system that makes ice at night when electricity rates are lower and then uses the ice to cool the building during the day.

- The Museum's "A Greener Field" committee promotes diverse conservation initiatives and offers a wide array of educational and informative programs about conservation.

The Shared Bike Programs serves The Field Museum's Mission to protect the world's flora and fauna as well as the natural habitats upon which they all depend.

The City of Chicago is reportedly considering a citywide program that would make bicycles available for use by the public at stations scattered around town. The program is modeled on similar programs around the world, including successful ones in Paris and Lyons, France. Another development that will make bicyclists feel more welcome in Chicago, particularly on the Museum Campus, is a new underpass for the Lakefront Bicycle Path where it intersects Solidarity Drive just east of The Field Museum. Construction has begun and is expected to be completed this summer.

"We are very optimistic about our Field Museum Shared Bike Program because we have gotten a lot of interest in the idea from museum employees," said Carter O'Brien, head of the Museum's A Greener Field committee. "Many employers encourage automobile driving by subsidizing the cost of parking; providing free parking for volunteers and students; reimbursing drivers for their mileage; making a fleet of cars available to employees; and/or accommodating the flow of taxis and buses. It's time for employers to consider doing more for bicycling."

"Calorie for calorie, the average human body on a bike gets something like 250 more miles per gallon than a car," said Johanna Thompson, Student Programs Administrator. "When I think about it that way, it makes me want to use a bike for as many trips as possible, especially the short jaunts."

Mission Statement:

The goals of The Field Museum Shared Bike Program are to:

-Provide an ecologically sound alternative form of employee transportation for local trips and errands;

-Enhance employee health and wellbeing by providing Field Museum staff with a no-cost, maintenance-free introduction to the benefits of cycling;

-Raise the profile of The Field Museum's green initiatives and position The Field Museum as a leader in fostering a bike-friendly culture in Chicago;

-Pursue the above goals through a highly cost-effective volunteer-driven program that re-uses existing bicycles and equipment.

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