Bikeshare Program Takes Off

Knox County, Tennessee

Ben Epperson, manager of the Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities Program, was fortunate enough to live within biking distance of his office at the Knox County Health Department (KCHD), in Knoxville, Tennessee. Not only did this make it simple for Ben to get to work, but it also meant he could ride to nearby meetings and appointments.

A Lack of Options

The KCHD encourages its employees to consider public transportation, carpooling, and walking. Department employees were even given the opportunity to flex their arrival and departure times to accommodate alternative methods of transportation. However, Epperson started to wonder, “What about the time we spend at work? Shouldn’t we make the healthy option the easy option every chance we can?”

In addition to his own thinking, Ben heard his coworkers were jealous of his bike travels. While he could hop on his bike to get to nearby appointments, or visit local lunch spots, many of his coworkers were faced with a quandary: too far to walk, too near to drive. Having no other options, KCHD employees had to use department vehicles or their own cars to go short distances.

These concerns led Ben to seek assistance in how to safely implement a department bikeshare program.

Working out the Details

Epperson needed answers to important questions about starting a bike share:

  • How could they ensure employees were ready to ride when they checked out a bike?
  • Would a wrecked bike become an insurance nightmare?
  • Did everything need to be documented, or could some things be left up to common sense?

Cycling to Success

“We contacted ChangeLab Solutions for help with building our bike share policy, Epperson said. “We wanted to make sure we had all our bases covered.”

ChangeLab Solutions provided Ben with strategies for creating a safe, effective program. In the end, all participants were required to sign a user agreement/waiver, and take a one-hour bike skills and maintenance course. Everyone is required to wear a helmet and check bikes in and out. Of the department’s 300 employees, about 10 percent have already taken advantage of the program since its launch in 2012.

“In nice weather, tons of people are using the bikes who would never be able to ride their bikes to work,” Epperson said. “People who otherwise would go to meetings in their own cars or company cars are picking up a bike.”

At ChangeLab Solutions, we’re glad to have been able to help the Knox County Health Department get their bike share program rolling. To learn more about policies that can help get people biking around town, check out some relevant resources on our site: Getting the Wheels Rolling: A Guide to Using Policy to Create Bicycle Friendly Communities for decision-makers, government officials, community groups, and others interested in making all types of communities more bicycle friendly; Our infographic, Let’s Ride!, and our overview of America’s rich history on two wheels, Bicycling: An American Tradition.

Photo Credit: Ben Epperson/Knox County Health Department

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