By Ellen Lewis
After a long and smoggy winter, Spring is here and to celebrate its arrival “GreenBike,” Salt Lake’s premiere bike share program, launched on April 8, 2013. This non-profit partnership between Salt Lake City and SLC Bike share started with 10 solar-powered bike kiosks in key locations downtown. Commuters can borrow one of 70 bikes to get from point A to point B conveniently without adding to the air pollution, dealing with parking and sneaking in some cardio.
“Bike Share represents another great transit option for Salt Lake City residents and visitors and one that has a fabulous, and green, fun factor,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker.
Unlike a traditional bike rental, GreenBike will allow members access to its network of bikes for 30 minutes at a time for anywhere from $5 for 24-hour access to $75 for a year membership. To start out there will be a network of 100 bikes across 10 stations. SLC Bike Share Project Manager Ben Bolte hopes to quickly expand. “The goal is to connect multiple satellite or stand-alone systems by light rail where a membership to any system grants you access to all systems,” Bolte said. 
Other cities have successfully initiated similar bike share programs that have resulted in positive environmental impacts.
According to Denver’s B-cycle website, a 4-mile bike ride keeps 15 pounds of pollutants out of the air that the car would have emitted driving the same distance. Members also reported driving 523 fewer miles per year on average, avoiding 487.7 pounds of carbon dioxide.
With less than ideal air quality and a small downtown, GreenBikecould be a step in the right direction to improve the environment of the Salt Lake Valley.
“Air quality is a big benefit,” said Ben Bolte, the Downtown Alliance Bike Share project manager, “The bikes have GPS on them, so they’ll literally track the amount of toxic pollutants and carbon dioxide that we’re not releasing into the atmosphere. Along with that, there’s also obvious health benefits and an enhancement to public transit.” Members can even track what personal impact they make, Annual members will have online access to their calories burned, CO2 avoided and money saved in gas.
Just how much of an impact could GreenBike have? The B-cycle website allows users to estimate the impact bike-sharing would have on their community. Scaling the B-cycle predictions to Salt Lake City’s numbers, we estimate that if 10% of Salt Lake uses GreenBike for 30 miles this will equal 569,697 miles, reducing carbon emissions by 273 tons and saving 28,200 gallons of gas.
Sponsors of the project include Select Heath and Kennecott Utah Copper, and they have high hopes for the effects of the program. “Cleaning-up air quality in the Salt Lake Valley is important. The SLC Bike share program is an opportunity for us to partner with the community to improve air quality,” said Kelly Sanders, president and CEO of Kennecott Utah copper.”
As the primary sponsor, SelectHealth believes GreenBike is a great fit with the company’s goal of improving health in the community. The entire brand is centered around the distinctive SelectHealth green color. “This is the first time Trek has agreed to use a different color,” Bolte said. “We are using the SelectHealth pantone matching system 576. It is a very specific green color. We are making our own brand.”.
It’s our hope that this program does well,” said Greg Reid, community relations director at SelectHealth. “We’d like to see this extend out to Murray and the University of Utah. We want to be hands-on and very supportive and watch it go and grow.
For details, and to join, visit http://greenbikeslc.org