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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

King County Rolls Out Green Bike Program

posted by on August 27 at 14:10 PM

King County has rolled out its Green Bikes Project (GBP), a partnership between the county, the Cascade Bicycle Club, REI and local businesses to cut down on car commuting.

The GBP will provide 200 Novara bicycles to employees at partner companies—Foss Maritime, Expedia, Zymogenetics, Perkins Coie, Boeing, REI, Swedish Hospital and other—who commit to riding to work through May 2009. Companies must provide secure bike parking and access to showers and employees must take safety classes and sign a liability waiver.

“We spent a lot of time encouraging people to drive. We built houses out in the burbs, schools out in the burbs, this is turning things around,” says Cascade Bicycle Club Advocacy Director David Hiller, who refers to the GBP program as “social marketing.”

While it’s an interesting idea, we’re about to head into our dreary, nine-month rainy season. Although GBP participants aren’t required to ride between November and February— GPB also operates on an honor system and rider mileage will not be tracked—Hiller doesn’t see the impending crappy weather as a problem. “This is really the time to test people’s tolerance for 42 degrees and drizzle,” he says. “I have a felling that the bikes will all be spoken for in very short order.”

GBP participants may get to keep their bikes when the pilot program ends, and Hiller hopes companies will start up their own biking programs. The county is waiting to see how the program goes, and there probably won’t be any talk of expanding or continuing the program until next year.

RSS icon Comments


Wow. The city is buying bicycles for people with good jobs at high-paying companies. Fascinating.

Posted by Fnarf | August 27, 2008 2:18 PM

Ah yes, the rainy season seems to have started early this year. I wonder if we will see snow in September this year? Snowboarding at Steven's Pass on Election Day maybe?

Posted by Whitworth Fag | August 27, 2008 2:24 PM

#1 - well, at least this is a start.

I hope the program turns out to be hugely successful and they make much bigger improvements and changes next year!

Posted by Angelika | August 27, 2008 2:27 PM

Green Bike is a clever name for the program - no doubt an allusion go the Rayon Vert which flashes on rare occasions for but a second at sundown and then is gone.

Posted by kinaidos | August 27, 2008 2:50 PM


Cost for 200 bikes = ....

Cost to jack up Metro bus fares 50 cents citywide = ....

You're still being taken to the cleaners.

Why don't the companies pay for the bikes instead and affix their corporate logos to them?

Posted by Will in Seattle | August 27, 2008 3:02 PM


I love ya' man, but the city is not involved, it's the county. Also, as far as I can tell, REI is donating the bikes.

Posted by elrider | August 27, 2008 3:02 PM

how many people like riding bikes in the rain?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | August 27, 2008 3:32 PM

City, county, same difference. Donations or not, same difference. They're still allocating resources to relatively well-off people, which is weird.

Posted by Fnarf | August 27, 2008 4:51 PM

Given the list of companies they rattled off, I'm pretty sure just about any of them could afford a bike to commute with if they chose to. The bikes they're giving away are probably worth roughly $300. (Compare that to roughly $8000 per year the average American spends on cars, car payments, insurance, gas, etc). A free bike isn't what's stopping them. Hills, rain, and lack of safe bike routes is what's stopping them.

The company commitment to showers and bike parking is certainly a help. But what we need is better and safer bike routes, not fee bikes for the well-employed.

Posted by Reverse Polarity | August 27, 2008 4:52 PM

Fnarf for the win. Of course, if those same companies, like say Microsoft, anted up for putting light rail on SR-520, this would all be a moot point.

Posted by Will in Seattle | August 27, 2008 5:36 PM

Will in Seattle: Novara is REI's house brand, so they have slapped their label on the bike.

Reverse Polarity: The Novara Transfer is a $500 bike. Wholesale that's probably $250 plus the labor to assemble it.

Nice idea. My workplace has secure bike parking and a shower, and it's wonderful.

Posted by dwight moody | August 27, 2008 5:55 PM

But REI will be knocking the full $500 off their taxes.

And the county presumably has an administrative staff of thirty to monitor.

Posted by Fnarf | August 27, 2008 6:27 PM

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