This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
GREENbike, Salt Lake City's nonprofit bike sharing system has been on the streets since 2013, and has grown at a rapid pace. The system, which began with 10 stations has grown to over 30 today, has also tripled in the number of bikes in use. Same goes for ridership: with each new station or shiny new set of wheels on the street, eager riders have grown alongside the growing system.
Built for community benefit, GREENbike relies primarily on sponsorship dollars to function. Title sponsor SelectHealth was one of the first companies on board when GREENbike was still just an idea, and their name is proudly adorned on each bicycle. As with all forms of public transportation (think buses and light rail) ridership revenues cover only a small fraction of operational costs. This is because public transportation systems lower their prices to encourage people to get out of their cars. Public and private dollars are necessary to sustain these important alternative forms of transportation. For GREENbike, dozens of companies have generously stepped up to support this growing alternative form of travel. Taking a ride around downtown you can see Squatters Pub Brewery, Harmons, backcountry.com, Phillips Edison & Company and many others have all sponsored a GREENbike station.
There is an obvious correlation of why a brewery, grocery store and online outdoor retailer would want to be involved. Bikes, and those that travel by bike are key customers for them. Downtown professional, Lezlee Gorey, agrees: "We love the flexibility of hoping on a GREENbike to go to the library, gym, malls, restaurants, bars and really anywhere we need to go. There seems to be a conveniently located GREENbike station where we need one. We even ride to Dick and Dixie's to grab the bus to Real Games. We love the freedom and convenience this service provides!"
What is compelling are larger, national, organizations like Phillips Edison & Company (PECO). One of the premier grocery store real estate firms with headquarters in the Midwest and a regional office in Salt Lake, managing hundreds of properties from coast to coast, has chosen to make an investment in supporting GREENbike in Salt Lake City. This example of corporate citizenry is analogous to how a nonprofit like GREENbike can accomplish its mission, while helping businesses like PECO who have made community involvement and green initiatives as important as the bottom line, positively impact the communities which they work in.
Here's how these missions align: GREENbike's goals include removing cars from the road (air quality), extending the reach of public transportation (alternative transportation options), connecting people to businesses (economic development) and improving community health. One of Phillips Edison & Companies community goals is to eliminate food deserts. The UDSA defines a food desert "as an urban area in which it is difficult to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food." GREENbike connects downtown office workers and residents to multiple venues to buy fresh food including the Downtown Farmers Market, Harmons and Whole Foods.
Downtown resident Joshua Rodgers can attest to the impact GREENbike has had on his urban living situation and access to shopping options: "GREENbiking makes grocery shopping convenient, quick and possible. I am able to hop on a GREENbike right outside of my apartment building, ride to the store, and fit up to a week's worth of groceries on one bike."
The GREENbike and PECO partnership is laying the groundwork and building momentum towards community impacts for years to come.