By Daniel Hoviss
The Putney Green Bike project was conceived by the Putney (Vermont) Energy Committee. A lot of people had bikes going unused in storage, while others needed to get out of their cars and onto other forms of transportation. As the price of gas spiked to aver $4.25 a gallon, the program reached a total of 15 bikes in the summer of 2008.
The program was very successful in many ways. We raised awareness of non-automotive transportation, and the usefulness of bicycles in Putney. We provided new bike racks at a number of local institutions, making bike parking easier. We donated kids’ bikes and helmets to the local elementary school bike program. People who used the program were very enthusiastic.
The Putney program also inspired a new and successful Bellows Falls Green Bike program, whose volunteers collect and repair bikes and offer programs. The Putney project has helped and donated several truckloads of bikes to the BF bike program. They have a wonderful downtown space for storage and repair. One unique feature of the BF project is that volunteers get hands-on training and can receive a bike in exchange for their hours. This gets people involved, teaches them new skills, and nets them a bike — all three great reasons to have a bike project in any town. Their website is bfbike.org
Two years ago, the Putney program entered a hiatus. The town has had road repaving and new sidewalk projects back to back, making biking conditions less than ideal and possibly dangerous. As the hiatus ends, the program awaits building finalization and improvements on a workshop and storage location in the town center. Bikes should again be available in Putney in mid-June.
We have reformulated the program. While no bikes were ever stolen, several bikes were “borrowed” for extended periods of time and returned needing work. The current program is set up to loan bikes to adult residents of Putney, and bikes will have locks.
As the Putney Program gets restarted, we are looking for additional volunteers, and will be implementing a free rental program as well as a volunteer repair and bike exchange service based on the BF project. We will be working on additional bike racks for area businesses, building improvements to our bike shed and getting the word out so more people can use the program.
One great benefit of such a program is that it reduces the number of car trips, and this lowers carbon emissions. This is particularly important because the short trips that can be made on bikes are the ones typically done with cold engines, which is when most vehicles produce their greatest emissions. In addition, bike programs keep used bikes out of landfills. People who ride bikes get the health benefits and joy of biking, people who volunteer get new skills in bike repair, and those who donate fund more bike-friendly travel lanes and parking areas.
Visit the Putney Bike Project online at bit.ly/putney_green_bikes
Contact Daniel Hoviss if you would like to volunteer, learn, ride or share bike knowledge. 802 387 4141 firstname.lastname@example.org
Daniel Hoviss is the Co Founder and chair of the Putney Energy Committee, Transition Putney member and Town Energy Coordinator.