Keeping Austin wheeled
Austin, Texas, started an Employee Bike Share Program last month to encourage employees to ride bicycles instead of drive cars to meetings, lunch or other activities during work days. The Austin Climate Protection Program purchased 15 automatic-shift bicycles with baskets, locks and helmets that city employees reserve through the city’s intranet and pick up and drop off at several office locations in the downtown area, including Austin City Hall, Austin Water Utility, and Parks and Recreation. The $4,875 project is intended to help the city meet the goals of the Austin Climate Protection Plan, which aims to make city operations, including the entire city fleet, carbon neutral by 2020. The reservation system uses estimated mileage to calculate how much carbon employees save by not using their cars. Also, each employee personally tracks miles traveled by bike and carbon saved under his/her user profile/history. In the first month, employees have ridden 349 miles on the bikes, preventing the emission of 316 pounds of carbon dioxide, 1.08 pounds of nitrogen oxide and 2.16 pounds of volatile organic compounds. City officials hope to expand the program and open it to the public.