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Wheeling while dealing at political conventions

August 21, 2008 |  3:51 pm

Bike_2 In rare bipartisan agreement, both Democrats and Republicans will have free bikes available for temporary use during their conventions, the Democrats in Denver from Aug. 25-28, and the Republicans in Minneapolis-St. Paul from Sept. 1-4. And you don't have to be a delegate, a pol or a nominee to use them. Anyone 18 and over can hop on and start pedaling. The bikes will be supplied through a partnership with Humana, a health benefits organization, and Bikes Belong, a cycling advocacy group.

If you'll be in Denver or Minneapolis-St. Paul for the conventions, the program will have 7 bike stations in each city. Get on one, go where you're going, and bring it back to one of the stations.

If they ride as much as organizers hope, cyclists could reduce the national carbon footprint by 4.4 tons by riding instead of driving. What's more, fat cats and others could collectively burn 200,000 calories.

The bike-sharing program, called Freewheelin, is the largest to date in this country. But many European cities, including ParisBerlin and Rome, have been putting out communal bikes for some time. Organizers are hoping that politically connected movers and shakers at the conventions will bring home the idea of sharing bikes to improve community health, cut down on traffic and reduce pollution.

-- Susan Brink

Photo: Matthew Staver. Bikes awaiting Democratic conventioneers in a Denver warehouse.