Delegates, visitors to Denver, Minneapolis and St. Paul, and residents of the host cities for this yearÂ™s national political conventions made it clear over the past two weeks that they enthusiastically endorse bicycle-sharing for the good of AmericaÂ™s health and environment.
Over the eight days of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, bicycle riders from all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and 37 countries (including the U.S.) Â¦
Â¦ all by riding Freewheelin bikes in Denver, Minneapolis and St. Paul. Health-benefits company Humana teamed with bicycle-advocacy organization Bikes Belong to bring the Freewheelin bike-sharing program to each of the just-completed political conventions. Leading U.S. bicycle and bike-helmet manufacturers loaned nearly $1 million in equipment for both conventions. And soon, everyone who checked out a Freewheelin bike will receive a message detailing their individual results.
WeÂ™re thrilled with the energy we felt and the feedback we received from everyone who took a Freewheelin ride at the conventions, said Jonathan Lord, M.D., HumanaÂ™s chief innovation officer. From the young man who learned to ride a bicycle on his first Freewheelin ride to the gentleman who rode more than 100 miles in an effort to support hurricane victims, Freewheelin demonstrated the enormous potential of bike-sharing in the U.S.
Before the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, with Hurricane Gustav bearing down on the Gulf Coast, The Humana Foundation and Bikes Belong Foundation said they would jointly donate $10 for each mile pedaled at the RNC. The 15,141 miles ridden in Minneapolis and St. Paul translate into a donation to the American Red Cross hurricane-relief fund of $151,414.
Tim Blumenthal, executive director of Bikes Belong, believes the success of Freewheelin at the conventions signals a turning point for bicycling and bike-sharing in the U.S.
At each convention, elected officials from across the nation took rides, watched their friends and relatives have fun with Freewheelin, and witnessed the benefits of riding bikes for short trips, Blumenthal said. Now these same elected officials are returning home with new information and new enthusiasm about what bike-sharing could mean for their communities.
When you consider that nearly half of all car trips in the U.S. are three miles or less, gas prices continue to hover at record levels, and Americans are getting more serious about protecting our environment, IÂ™m hopeful we are seeing the beginning of a new golden era of bicycling transportation in our country.
Dr. Lord, of Humana, added: The obesity epidemic is causing a health crisis in our country. We eat too much and exercise too little. Promoting bicycling enables us to start down a new path in an effort to encourage Americans to take action if they want to live healthier lives.
The future of bike-sharing in the U.S.
Humana and Bikes Belong are leaving 70 bicycles and bicycle racks in Denver and in Minneapolis-St. Paul for these cities to use in creating their own permanent bike-sharing programs. Mayors in each of these cities have indicated their desire to build on the success of Freewheelin by developing permanent programs.
Humana and Bikes Belong will continue their partnership in an effort to continue promoting bicycling across the U.S., given the tremendous interest in what happened with Freewheelin in Denver and the Twin Cities. Freewheelin is not just a bike-sharing program, but a developing social network. It has shown that Americans will ride bikes for short trips when bikes are readily available, and when bike lanes and paths are convenient, abundant, well-mapped and promoted.
All about bike-sharing
Bike-sharing is the international social movement where bikes are positioned at designated stations throughout cities for individuals to use for short trips. It is a viable transportation alternative for those who prefer an environmentally friendly, cost-effective and healthy way to travel.
Humana pioneered the bike-sharing program in 2007 in its corporate hometown of Louisville, Ky. The initiative focuses on fun as well as health by encouraging people to get on a bike and ride with friends, just like when they were kids. Twenty-one percent of those riding at Humana were not previously involved in exercise activity.
Humana Inc., headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, is one of the nationÂ™s largest publicly traded health and supplemental benefits companies, with approximately 11.5 million medical members. Humana is a full-service benefits solutions company, offering a wide array of health and supplementary benefit plans for employer groups, government programs and individuals.
Over its 47-year history, Humana has consistently seized opportunities to meet changing customer needs. Today, the company is a leader in consumer engagement, providing guidance that leads to lower costs and a better health plan experience throughout its diversified customer portfolio.
More information regarding Humana is available to investors via the Investor Relations page of the companyÂ™s Web site at http://www.humana.com, including copies of:
About Bikes Belong
Bikes Belong is the U.S. bicycle industry organization dedicated to putting more people on bicycles more often. Bikes Belong Coalition works to increase federal bike funding, awards grants to support innovative bike projects, promotes bicycling and its benefits, and sponsors key initiatives such as the National Bike Summit. The affiliated Bikes Belong Foundation focuses on improving bicycle safety, enhancing childrenÂ™s bike programs, and making communities friendlier for bicyclists by backing national efforts such as Safe Routes to School and Bicycle Friendly Communities.
Humana Corporate Communications
Jim Turner, 502-608-2897
Bikes Belong Coalition
Avery Stonich, 303-449-4893 x 2