City pushes bike program

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— The bright yellow streaks that will be flying across the streets of Steamboat Springs starting today are free bikes but to city employee Dave Gardner, they're pure gold.

Gardner, along with Planner Tracey Hughes, is spearheading a "community-use bicycle" program sponsored by the city for the fourth straight year. Gardner, who has been walking to work all week and plans to continue doing so throughout the summer, said the program is an attempt to promote the use of non-motorized transportation in the city.

"It's a community service to encourage people to bicycle more rather than drive," Gardner said.

Community members can use the bikes and leave them at their destination. Another person then can use the bike.

Gardner and Hughes painted the bikes yellow last week. Local bike shops, such as Orange Peel Bicycle Service and Wheels, repaired the bikes after residents donated the bicycles.

The city funded the program this year to the tune of $1,000, which Hughes said is just about the cost of fixing up the bikes, painting them and getting locks. Any excess money goes into next year's bike fund, she said. Mountain bikes were converted into street bikes for the program. Each bike has a basket and a bell.

The bikes will be available for everyone in the community to use starting today at noon at Centennial Hall.

At noon the 10 yellow bikes, two of which will be reserved for city employees, will set off in different directions to get the program rolling. Unlike in years past, the bikes will have locks on them, though users will simply need to call Hughes to find out the combinations. Her number, which will be on a sticker on each of the bikes, is 871-8224. Hughes said the locks are being added because bikes have been abused in the past, with one bike even getting tossed into the river.

"The first year, it looked like one of them got run over by a car," Hughes said.

Hughes said the locks should not dissuade people from using the bikes, since they only need to make one call to get the combination.

Hughes is hoping some businesses will also sponsor bikes, which they can decorate with their own advertisements. The cost to sponsor a bike is $100. The city will take care of getting bikes for businesses and fixing them up, Hughes said.

June is Bike to Work Month in Colorado and June 27 is Bike to Work Day.

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