City employees pushing their pedals | SteamboatToday.com

City employees pushing their pedals

Staff to compete in alternative transportation competition

Kristi Mohrbacher

— A rivalry could be brewing on 10th Street.

The city of Steamboat Springs kicks off its third annual alternative transportation competition today. Each city department will compete for the highest number of employees who choose alternative transportation to commute to work or run errands during the day.

Lauren Mooney, assistant to the city manager, said she is looking forward to the competition.

“I think Centennial Hall thinks they can beat City Hall,” she said.

But then she paused for a moment.

“Well, they might be able to,” she admitted. “There’s a lot of healthy people over there.”

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Last year, Tran-Spur-Tation, as the alternative transportation program is called, helped to “reduce traffic and pollution” created by city employees, City Planner Gavin McMillan said. On average, 11.5 percent of city employees on any given day rode bikes, walked, took the bus or carpooled to work during the 2007 contest.

There are 383 city employees in seven departments competing for the win. The prize is a citywide bagel hour.

Upcoming events such as Triple Crown will bring thousands of people to Steamboat Springs this summer, resulting in increased traffic, limited parking and added pollution.

The city’s contest will attempt to ease those burdens through the use of alternative transportation – a trend that is growing in Steamboat.

Jonathan Flint, operations manager for Steamboat Springs Transit, said city buses have carried nearly 93,000 passengers since Memorial Day.

“That’s a 23 percent increase compared to last year at this time,” he said. “Around 1,500 people ride the bus every day, and we’re expecting to see about 2,500 (per day) later this summer.”

Last year, about 1.1 million passengers rode the bus. “If you think of it this way, each car normally has two people, so our buses kept about 500,000 cars off the road in Steamboat last year,” Flint said.

Steamboat enjoys healthy air quality, said Mike Zopf, director of Routt County Department of Environmental Health.

“We haven’t had a major problem since the early ’90s,” Zopf said.

In the summer, dry conditions can cause matter to blow in from far away and open burning can affect air quality, explained Zopf.

“But in general, we are well within the air-quality standard,” he said.

The Tran-Spur-Tation competition ends in early September.

– To reach Kristi Mohrbacher, call 870-1376

or e-mail kmohrbacher@steamboatpilot.com