City kicks off alternative transportation program

Employees asked to ride bicycles or walk to work

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Starting this month, the city of Steamboat Springs is encouraging employees to skip driving to work alone and to find another form of transportation.

For two years, the city has had a program encouraging people to bike, walk, ride the bus or carpool to work during June. This year, employees will be asked to continue their efforts through September.

The extension is part of a city effort to expand its alternative transportation program. Next year, the program may include additional incentives -- possibly paid time off -- or other changes. Currently, city employees who take part in the program can receive free T-shirts, water bottles and other items.

The program was spurred, in part, by the Steamboat Springs City Council's direction to staff to look into alternative transportation for workers. Addressing transportation issues was one of the council's top five goals for the year.

Council member Susan Dell--inger said she's excited about the work city staff has done to create the program.

"All of a sudden, they came up with this whole thing on their own, and I think it's great," Dellinger said.

Having city employees find alternate ways of getting to work could alleviate some of downtown's parking issues, Dellinger said. She said businesses are trying to keep employees from parking there.

"What we're trying to say is, 'Let's not park downtown at all,'" Dellinger said.

Council member Steve Ivancie said he hopes the program serves as a model for other workers and businesses.

"It's a wonderful example of the city leading by example," he said.

Assistant City Attorney Dan Foote was one of the employees who rode a bicycle to work Thursday, the kick-off day for the program. Foote lives up Fish Creek Falls Road, about two miles from work.

"I like riding, and it's good exercise," he said.

Members of the city committee that reviewed this year's program were Lauren Mooney, Dave Gardner, Mary Johnson and Lynn Churchill. They received help from Gavin Malia, who is chairman of the city's Green Team, a group that addresses environmental issues.

Mooney said the benefits of the program include helping the environment and keeping city vehicles off the road.

"If it changes the way someone does something once, it's worth it," Johnson said.

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