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Mobile Billboards, Internal Bike Share….Newark’s Approach to Healthy Living

Posted on November 12, 2014


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Ian Davidson, ELGL project assistant, writes about an internal bike share program for city employees in Newark, Delaware.

Internal Bike Share for City Employees

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by Ian Davidson – LinkedIn and Twitter

The City of Newark’s internal bike share program first came to our attention in this Newark Post article, “City employees’ bikes serve as ‘mobile billboards’.” Bike share programs in DC, Chicago, and Seattle have been in the headlines but we rarely hear about a program only for city employees. City of Newark staffer Tom Atadan, a research aid in the planning department and city manager’s office, gave us a glimpse into the Newark program.

Funds to the tune of $10,000 were awarded to Newark from Delaware Coalition for Healthy Eating and Active Living (DE HEAL) along with a gold-level award for being a healthy community. The award should come as no surprise to those familiar with the area as Newark is widely known for its sustainable chops.

City employees in Newark, Del. can now travel by bike to go to meetings, run errands, and go to lunch thanks to a new city bike share program.

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NEWARK POST PHOTO BY KARIE SIMMONS

Newark was awarded the bronze-level healthy community award last year, and the City of Newark’s Comprehensive Development Plan promotes a specific vision of Newark as a “Healthy and Active Community” by providing “safe infrastructure and amenities to allow opportunities for a healthy and active lifestyle.” Newark is home to several skate parks, trails, a Healthy Newark Initiative, a Newark Natural Foods Co-Op and new community garden.

The DE HEAL funds, however, came with a caveat: they had to be used to market and promote Newark as a healthy community. Tom Atadan, a research aid in the planning department and city manager’s office, came up with the idea of turning the bikes into mobile billboards doubling as advertisements and sustainable transportation. Atadan told ELGL that he thought it would be a “quirky” way to get the word out about Newark’s successes and encourage other businesses to adopt a sustainable culture.

When asked about the success of the two-week old program, Atadan indicated that the each of the four bikes had been checked out everyday. Atadan was not surprised by the success since city employees, particularly those in the public works department, have been asking for such a program for sometime now.

NEWARK POST PHOTO BY KARIE SIMMONS
NEWARK POST PHOTO BY KARIE SIMMONS

The city used $2,400 of the grant money to buy four bikes complete with cargo racks and accompanying helmets. According to the Newark Post, two bikes are stored at city hall, one at the maintenance yard facility, and one at the city’s parking office.

As for the remaining grant money, Atadan said it will be used for various promotional items including a branded calendar listing healthy events going on in the city.

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