Bike program spins into third summer

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— Seven yellow Community Use Bicycles are out on the streets of Steamboat for the third summer in a row, providing an additional means of transportation for residents who might instinctively use vehicles for quick errands.

"The purpose of the program is to help reduce short- term car trips and to discourage people from jumping into their cars to drive around town," said Tracey Hughes, city planner and CUB program organizer. "Get healthier, get some fresh air, get on a bike."

CUB is a volunteer-run program that receives donated bikes from the community and renovates them for anyone to use. The bikes are spread around Steamboat in various high traffic areas. After people are finished using the bikes, they are supposed to leave them in a busy location so that others can hop on.

"It pays big dividends when you see someone riding a bike and then leaving it where someone else can pick up the bike and use it," said Chris Johns, owner of Wheels bike shop. "Occasionally, I see people carrying a bike up the stairs to their condo to horde the bike for the summer, but that's abusing the system."

Some changes to the program this year are that three local bike shops are donating their time to maintain and fix CUB bikes. In the past, volunteers got together to try to maintain all of the bikes and the shops helped out.

"I just really agree with the program and I think it's a good, visible way of getting people aware of alternative transportation," said Brock Webster, owner of Orange Peel Bicycle Service.

This year, Wheels, Steamboat Ski & Bike Kare and Orange Peel are volunteering their time by maintaining the bikes and providing discounted parts for the bikes in the program. CUB should have 20 bikes on the streets of Steamboat this summer, Hughes said.

"We're doing it to help the community and to be a friendly neighbor," said Harry Martin, owner of Steamboat Ski & Bike Kare.

Maintenance and fixing damaged bikes is a big part of keeping them on the road and keeping the program spinning. The bikes used in the program are usually old, Martin said, so normal riding can be tough on the yellow machines.

The care and treatment of damaged bikes has been the biggest obstacle for the program, Hughes said, and lately it has been a losing battle.

"The community needs to take ownership of the bikes and stop people from abusing them," Hughes said. "Unless people start taking ownership, then I'm not going to continue spending my time on the program."

Hughes added that if people see others abusing the bikes, they need to either say something or report the person to the police. People seen damaging the CUB bikes can be given a fine or prosecuted because the bikes are public property, Hughes said.

"People should take care of the bikes and not try to deliberately run into things with them," Martin said. "It seems like last year, I saw some bikes where it looked like people tried to run into things with them."

If anyone sees a damaged bike this summer they can leave it at any bus stop and the bus will pick up the bikes and bring them to the transit facility. This service also is a new addition to the program this year, Hughes said.

Anyone interested in donating bikes or providing financial assistance to the CUB can call Hughes at 879-2060.

Larissa Keever is an intern for the Steamboat Pilot/Steamboat Today

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