Freewheelin Bike Sharing a Huge Success at National Conventions
September 04, 2008
Word on the streets during the recent Democratic and Republican national conventions: Freewheelin is the way to go. Bikes Belong teamed with Humana, a leading health benefits company, to bring 1,000 bikes to each host city (Denver and Minneapolis-St. Paul) in a pioneering bike-sharing effort.
At seven stations at each convention, we loaned bikes and helmets free of charge to delegates, media, volunteers, elected officials, and residents. Humana provided
tremendous financial and logistical support for this project. In addition, Bikes Belong member companies donated and loaned close to $1 million in equipment and staff time. Leading retailers in both markets helped assemble the bikes and provided technical support.
Freewheelin at the conventions introduced many people to biking and showcased bicycling on a national stage. During the eight days of Freewheelin in Colorado and Minnesota, participants from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 37 countries:
- Took 7,523 rides
- Pedaled 41,724 miles
- Burned 1,293,429 calories
- Reduced their carbon footprint by 14.6 metric tons
Tim Blumenthal, executive director of Bikes Belong, said the success of Freewheelin at the conventions signals a turning point for bicycling and bike sharing in the U.S. “At each convention, elected officials from across the nation took rides, watched their friends and relatives have fun with Freewheelin, and witnessed the benefits of riding bikes for short trips,” Blumenthal said. “Now these same elected officials are returning home with new information and new enthusiasm for bicycling in their communities. “When you consider that nearly half of all car trips in the U.S. are three miles or less, gas prices hover at record levels, and Americans are getting more serious about protecting our environment, I’m hopeful we are spurring a new golden era of bicycling transportation in our country.” To keep the project rolling, Humana and Bikes Belong are leaving 70 bicycles and bicycle racks in Denver and Minneapolis to create permanent bike-sharing programs. Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak have indicated their intention to build on the success of Freewheelin by developing permanent programs. In addition to inspiring thousands of people to ride bicycles, Freewheelin at the conventions also garnered widespread and positive press for bicycling. The Washington Post listed Freewheelin as one of the top five things to love about Denver. The Wall Street Journal, L.A. Times, New York Times, and Newsweek provided detailed coverage. Syndicated columnist Dave Barry wrote about the bikes. Hundreds of other stories in top newspapers and on television, radio, and web networks nationwide promoted the program and the benefit of using bikes for short trips in cities. Learn more at freewheelinwaytogo.com.