Power To The Pedalers
August 24, 2008
Nation’s largest bike-sharing initiative off to fast start at Democratic National Convention
Freewheelin effort nets 1,429 rides and 2,937 miles
on first day of DNC
Washington Post names Freewheelin bike-sharing program
among “5 Things to Love About Denver”
DENVER – August 25, 2008 – Just one day into the Democratic National Convention, more than 1,400 convention delegates, visitors and Denver residents are ready to vote yes … for Freewheelin. The innovative bike-sharing program from Humana and Bikes Belong recorded 1,429 rides, 2,937 miles ridden, 92,000 calories burned and a carbon-footprint reduction of just more than one metric ton.
“If the first day of the DNC is any indication, bike-sharing has tremendous potential in the U.S.,” said Jonathan Lord, M.D., Humana’s chief innovation officer. “Riding a bike is great for your body, great for the environment, and a lot of fun. So many people are returning their bikes with big smiles on their faces, reminded of all the fun they had riding bikes as kids.”
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Tim Blumenthal, executive director of Bikes Belong, praised the people who are deciding to make a Freewheelin bicycle their mode of transportation at the DNC.
“The first day was a tremendous success. Each of our seven stations was busy all day and the streets and fantastic bike paths in Denver were filled with happy, healthy cyclists. We couldn’t have asked for more.”
Freewheelin, the nation’s largest bike-sharing program, comes to this year’s political conventions from health-benefits company Humana and bicycling-advocacy group Bikes Belong. They are providing 1,000 bikes for use free in Denver throughout the DNC, and will take an additional 1,000 bikes to Minneapolis-Saint Paul next week for the Republican National Convention. The Washington Post has listed Freewheelin among “five things to love about Denver.”
Bike-sharing is the international social movement whereby bikes are situated at designated stations throughout cities for individuals to use for a specified amount of time. It is a viable transportation alternative for those who prefer an environmentally friendly, cost-effective and healthy means of traveling, especially for short trips. By providing these bikes to the Democratic and Republican convention cities, Humana and Bikes Belong hope to increase awareness of bicycling in the minds of all involved with the conventions – from the delegates to the media to even the presidential candidates themselves.
In total, Bikes Belong member companies provided more than $500,000 worth of biking equipment to both convention cities.
How Freewheelin Works
Bikes are available in Denver from Aug. 25-28; and in Minneapolis-St. Paul for the Republican convention from Sept. 1-4. Participants who register in advance via the Freewheelin Web site – http://www.freewheelinwaytogo.com – will be ready to check out a bike from one of the multiple bike stations throughout the convention cities. Online registration and use of the bikes during the conventions is free, with all related costs paid by Humana and Bikes Belong. Bikes are available beginning at 7 a.m. each day of the conventions, and don’t have to be returned to a bike station until 7 p.m. each day. The bikes can be picked up and returned to any station (locations available at the freewheelinwaytogo.com Web site).
Those interested in the program, but unable to register online, can also register in person at any Freewheelin station. Greeters are on site at each bike station to assist with registration and route planning, and safety specialists are available to answer questions and address concerns.
Humana pioneered the bike-sharing program in 2007 in its corporate hometown of Louisville, Ky. The initiative focuses on fun as well as health by encouraging people to get on a bike and ride with friends, just like when they were kids. Twenty-one percent of those riding were not previously involved in exercise activity.
A ‘Bike-Partisan’ Challenge
On July 30 in Washington, D.C., Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-3), James Oberstar (D-MN-8), Thomas Petri (R-WI-6) and Zach Wamp (R-TN-3) issued a spirited challenge to attendees at the political conventions: join together in the Freewheelin bike-sharing initiative to generate 10,000 rides and bike 25,000 miles at the conventions.
With on-bike computers that track mileage and the ability to compute calories burned and carbon reduction for each cyclist, Humana will have metrics available following the conventions to measure participants’ progress toward the “bike-partisan” challenge.