Humana, a healthcare company that employs 8,500 people in downtown Louisville, Kentucky, has started a bike-sharing program called "Freewheelin" for its workers, and already over 2,000 employees have signed up for it.
Humana's operations are scattered among a number of downtown buildings, and employees frequently use the bikes to travel between them, to ride to lunch or just take cruise around on their break for some exercise.
Employees swipe their ID card to check out a Trek Lime bike from several different loan stations, which are powered by solar panels mounted on the bike racks.
Louisville mayor Jerry Abramson likes the idea, and says he plans to meet with corporate leaders to encourage them to replicate the program. He wants to eventually expand the program so that city residents one day could check out a bike from a number of locations.
Assuming Humana is committed to keeping the bikes maintained, the fact that this is a company-sponsored program is what will make this work, as far as the logistics of the lending program go. I bet if you worked there and wrecked one of the bikes doing bunny hops off the curb or simply never brought it back, you'd hear about it from the boss.
That sort of accountability is a good and necessary thing and counters what has sunk other bike lending programs, i.e., people not taking care of or not returning bikes. Before credit card swipes were available to check out bikes in municipal programs like Paris or Amersterdam, loss of and damage to the bikes was too common to make the programs viable.
An earlier go at the Amsterdam program (without credit card checkout) failed because people would ride the bikes to bars, get drunk and toss the loaner bikes into the canals. But then again, the boss didn't call them in demanding an explanation, and the charges never showed up on any credit card.
- Read an article from the Louisville Courier-Journal describing the program.
- View a video of the announcement of the program .
From Smart Growth Around America newsletter, Sept. 11, 2007