The Daily Mining Gazette applauds the city of Gladstone and the Public Health Departments of Delta and Menominee Counties for launching the Yellow Bike program.
The program allows members of the public to check out and use bicycles for free.
The bikes are made possible by a grant from the National Association of City and County Health Officials, which was sponsored by the Center for Disease Control. As part of the grant, a coalition was sent out into the community to assess its needs.
"Based on the assessment results, we picked our two lacking areas of what we needed to work on," said Bridget Naser, PHDMC health educator said. "One of them was physical activity and the other one was smoke-free environments."
The goal of the bike program is to increase physical activity and reduce the rate of obesity.
The program is new to Gladstone but has been successful in Escanaba, where about 150 people checked out the bikes at two locations last year.
Gladstone is offering three locations to check out bikes: Bay Campground will have bikes available from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and the Gladstone Yacht Harbor will have bikes available from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week. Bikes at Brampton Bike and Ski will be available from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. This year, Escanaba added a third location, also, based on the success of last year's program.
A valid ID is required to check out a bike and riders must be at least 18 years old. Bikes can be used for an entire day but must be returned to the location that they were checked out from by the close of business that day.
The bikes are brand new, single speed, beach cruisers with baskets on them to be more functional for running errands. The bikes are stored without seats to prevent theft.
"When you go check out a bike you get your seat, your lock, and your key," Naser said.
The cities and public health departments should pat themselves on the back for a successful program that will undoubtedly make their citizens happier and healthier while being a positive step toward making their communities more attractive to potential residents.
One wonders if such a program could work in communities in the Copper Country, where a free bike program could mean all the difference to residents who don't currently have the means to use the area's abundant trails.