Photos by Karen Bean, The Field Museum. click to enlarge

How many bicycles does it take for the Field Museum in Chicago to call them a program? Three. That's how many pedal-powered two-wheelers the museum will be offering up to employees for getting around the large campus to meeting or errands, or to just cruise around for exercise. The program started on the last day of March, just in time to miss the worst of winter, and will continue until November. There might be more bikes added later if employees take to the rides.

Museum employees are also encouraged to bike to work with on-site showers and an indoor bike parking lot. The museum says over 100 full-time employees (out of 575) regularly bike to work. Other green initiatives at the museum are detailed in the press release after the jump.


Press Release:

Field Museum Launches Shared Bike Program for Employees

- Bikes for meetings, errands, exercise.
- Reduce pollution, save money.

CHICAGO, March 31 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Field Museum will add to its already extensive "green" record by launching an innovative Shared Bike Program on March 31, 2008 - just in time for spring.

The Museum is a trendsetter for employee bicycle use. It encourages employees to bicycle to work by providing showers and bike parking, including a large, secure, indoor bike-parking facility. As a result, more than 100 of the Museum's approximately 575 full-time employees bike to work on a regular basis.

Initially, the Museum's Shared Bike Program will make three bicycles available March-November for employees to use during daylight hours. More bicycles will be added depending on demand.

Employees may use the bikes for personal or work-related reason - to run an errand, attend a meeting away from the museum, or just take a spin. The Museum expects to save money with this program by reducing expenditures for taxis, parking and messenger services.

"The Field Museum's Shared Bike Program is an ideal way to encourage more people to get on bikes," said Rob Sadowsky, executive director of the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation. "Companies that encourage their employees to ride bikes end up saving money on health-insurance costs. Plus, they get healthier, happier employees."

Other "green" initiatives at the Museum:

-- Take One Step, a program that encourages Museum visitors to purchase shares of carbon credits to offset the greenhouse gases created by their trip to the Museum;

-- Extensive solar panels on its roof;

-- A Renewable Energy Vehicle that runs on filtered waste vegetable oil and travels to schools, street fairs, and other public events teaching people about renewable energy;

-- Widespread use of energy-efficient fluorescent lighting;

-- Extensive recycling of paper; cardboard; printer cartridges; cell phones; eye glasses; batteries; etc.;

-- A new heating system that makes ice at night when electricity rates are lower and then uses the ice to cool the building during the day.

-- The Museum's "A Greener Field" committee promotes divers conservation initiatives and offers a wide array of educational and informative programs about conservation.

The City of Chicago is considering a citywide program that would make bicycles available for use by the public at stations scattered around town. The program is modeled on similar programs around the world, including one in Paris.

"Many employers encourage automobile driving by subsidizing parking; reimbursing drivers for their mileage; or making cars available to employees," said Carter O'Brien, head of the Museum's A Greener Field committee. "It's time for employers to consider doing more for bicycling."

Robert Weiglein, Exhibitions Designer at The Field Museum, and Johanna Thompson, Student Programs Administrator at The Field Museum, try out the bicycles that are part of the Museum's new Shared Bike Program.

"Calorie for calorie, the average human body on a bike gets something like 250 more miles per gallon than a car," Thompson said. "When I think about it that way, it makes me want to use a bike for as many trips as possible, especially the short jaunts."

Weiglein initiated the Shared Bike Program: "One day last summer, I was in a taxi rushing to an appointment in the North Loop when it occurred to me that I would rather be on a bike. I also thought it would help the Museum be more 'green'."

[Source: Field Museum]

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