D.C. sets the pace for bikesharing program
Bikesharing is not yet a hot trend throughout the nation, but it is picking up steam in several cities, especially Washington, D.C. Transportation officials from D.C. and Arlington, Va., have teamed up to create the Capital Bikeshare Program.
"A company can purchase a bulk number of memberships and give them to employees for free or at discounted rates," said Chris Holben, bicycle program specialist for the District Department of Transportsation. "We're finding corporations are interested in this because they can provide another wellness option."
The Capitol Bikeshare Program allows its members 24-hour access to 1,000 bikes at 114 station locations throughout the D.C. and Arlington areas. Riders can take a bike and return it to any station.
For a $75 annual fee, $25 monthly fee, or $5 day fee, members can ride the bikes for 30 minutes at any time. Longer rides are $1.50 for the next 30 minutes.
"We've found that 90 percent of trips are under 30 minutes," Holben said. "It's meant for short trips."
With workers' comp medical costs continuing to escalate and obesity costing employers an estimated $73.1 billion, according to a recent study out of Duke University, bikesharing can offer an inexpensive way to encourage wellness among employees. The bike racks are typically placed on streets or sidewalks, meaning companies do not need to invest in the infrastructure, unless they want bike racks near their buildings.
Employers also don't need to be concerned about liability because membership requires signing a liability waiver. "What we're seeing, basically, is that a company would offer a membership and the employees would sign up on their own," Holben said. "So the employee takes the liability. It's completely separate from a fleet of cars where the insurance is on the business."
The programs, also in place in Denver and Minneapolis, work especially well in urban areas, where there is a certain density of people who work, live or play. "Also, you need proper bike facilities, such as trails or bike lanes," Holben said. "A rural community may have a couple of bikesharing stations, a mini system."
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January 6, 2011
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