Monday, May 23, 2016

GREENbike Bike Share Program: One Sweet, Green Ride

By: Utah DEQ Communications Team

May is Bike Month, and DEQ is celebrating by showcasing stories about how people are choosing bicycles as an environmentally friendly form of transportation.

If you’ve seen folks pedaling around downtown Salt Lake City on green-colored bikes, you know that trees, flowers, and lawns aren’t the only green things that are sprouting up everywhere in the city. The city’s successful bike share program is growing, too, with over 330 bikes available at 33 downtown stations. In fact, GREENbike has grown by an incredible 411 percent since opening its first bike stations in 2013.

What’s the appeal? For starters, GREENbike offers convenience, air quality benefits, and a great way to get some exercise. No circling the block looking for a parking place. Want to indulge in a piece of cheesecake at lunch? No worries, you can work it off on the ride back. The bikes are designed for people wearing work clothes, so you can jump on a bike and head to a meeting without the hassle of changing into special biking clothes. A basket in the front of the bike can hold your briefcase, shopping, or takeout. You can even add a little extra bit of fun to date night with a bike tour of downtown, Liberty Park, or the Avenues. Salt Lake’s world-class bike infrastructure makes it easy to get from point A to point B with minimum hassle and maximum safety.

And if you’re eager to do your part to clean our air, you’ll be pleased to know that in 2015 GREENbike riders prevented over 570,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.

Using GREENbike is really fast and simple. Find a bike share station, swipe your credit card at the pay station, select your bike, and off you go! Return the bike to any station and be on your way. A free B-cycle app helps you locate stations and bike availability. And stations are conveniently located near transit, so you can bike to and from nearby Frontrunner, TRAX, or buses. Helmets aren’t provided, but you can bring your own.

Last year, almost 30,000 people bought passes and rode over 106,000 times. GREENbike director Ben Bolte predicts that ridership will continue to increase in 2016 as more people discover the ease and convenience of hopping on a bike to get to a meeting, run errands, or make a grocery-store run. A $5 pass gives riders unlimited 30-minute trips for 24 hours, and a $75 annual pass gives riders unlimited 60-minute trips. And if you visit one of the nearly 30 cities with a B-cycle system, you can use your B-card to cycle in Denver, Savannah, or San Antonio!

So what are you waiting for? Bike Month is the perfect time to try out Salt Lake’s bike share program. For more information, go to GREENbike’s website for a station map, rates and membership fees, and safety tips. If your office is interested in getting employees out of their cars and onto a bike, check out the Office Pass Program. Office passes make it easier for employees to utilize transit, ease traffic congestion, improve health, and help our air quality.

Do you have your own GREENbike story? Please share it with us in the comments section below. Happy biking!  



Monday, May 16, 2016

Why Do I Bike? Clean Air and Exercise — but Mostly It Makes Me Happy

By: Tom Daniels

May is Bike Month, and DEQ is celebrating by inviting bloggers to share their thoughts on choosing bicycles as an environmentally friendly form of transportation.

It’s 5 a.m. I stumble to the bathroom, run water through my hair, brush my teeth and get dressed: shorts, jersey, gloves, jacket and shoes; shoulder on my back pack, grab my lunch and stumble downstairs.

There’s my ride: 15 pounds of carbon fiber and titanium. My day is instantly better.

Two miles in 7 minutes to the Ogden bus stop. I throw my bike on the bus and relax for the hour ride in to work at DEQ.

My first “real” bike was a Motobecane. It had a brazed frame and bar end shifters. It was fast and light. My first ride up Emigration had me out of breath and sore. Biking took a back seat to college, marriage and kids. When I started at DEQ in 1995 I weighed over 215 pounds. It wasn’t until my car engine blew that I picked up my bike again, because it cost more to repair than the car was worth, and well, I had a bike.

Back then it was a 10-mile commute from my Murray house to the Salt Lake office. I was heavy, out of shape, and frankly I SUCKED! In 1996, mountain biking made its debut in the Atlanta Olympics. Tinker Juarez was 5 years older than me, slaughtering kids 10-to-15 years younger than him. I figured if Tinker could do it, so could I. It took the entire summer to get in shape. After 2 years living in Ogden, I dropped to 165 pounds, where it has stayed for the last 15 years.

It’s 5 p.m. I change, fill my water bottles, grab my back pack and retrieve my bike. There is a slight headwind so I tuck down to reduce my resistance and bring my cadence up. I feel the wind passing over me, the road beneath me, my legs are churning, and my lungs are starting to burn. All I hear is the thrum of the road beneath my tires, and the chain moving through the derailleur.

In 20 minutes I’m at Legacy Parkway where I meet up with another rider and we start working together. Our speed and cadence increase as we take turns pulling for each other, and the miles quickly disappear.

At Farmington Station, I peel off, hop on Highway 89 and start climbing through Fruit Heights, Cherry Lane then onto the Weber River Divide, hitting 45 mph on that descent. One last climb in Ogden in 1:52—not bad for a 35 mile-ride home with 18 miles of climbs.

I have ridden in rain, snow, hail and temperatures ranging from -17°F to 113°F. I am on my third road bike, having literally ridden the wheels off of two others. I have been hit by a car on three different occasions. I have had three concussions, two broken thumbs, a broken elbow and shoulder surgery. People ask why I ride. Biking saves money, energy and pollution. It also has helped me lose weight and keep it off. But that is not why I ride.

I bike because it doesn’t matter how tired, angry, frustrated I get throughout the day. When I get on my bike, it evaporates into the ether. I have had hard rides and easy rides, rides that have pushed me farther than I ever thought I would go, but in the end, there has never been a bad ride.

Biking makes me happy. That is why I ride.

May is Utah Bike Month. Why do you ride? We’d love to hear how biking makes you happy.

I am a mechanical engineering graduate from the University of Utah. I work as an environmental engineer for the Division of Environmental Response and Remediation in the Superfund Section. I also teach a spin class at Weber State.

Monday, May 9, 2016

My Health Challenge: Get Out of My Office

By: Donna Kemp Spangler

DEQ's Cindy Beem leads a fitness class
at DEQ's Fitness Center
Utah Gov.Gary Herbert has challenged state agencies to “Move More at Work.” In an effort to support health and well-being in the workplace and to recognize National Employee Health and Fitness Month, the state’s public health council is sponsoring a competition that recognizes the top three state agencies with the greatest percentage of participation. Finally, the Utah Department of Environmental Quality has a fighting chance. Typically, DEQ leads out in the annual Clear the Air Challenge but is ranked lower than larger agencies with more employees. Yes, I’m talking about the Utah Department of Workforce Services. This contest encourages participants to be “workout warriors” by counting their steps with a handy conversion tracker for a chance to win a $50 gift card to Sports Authority.

Alan Matheson, executive director of DEQ and self-professed competitive junkie, sweetened the pot to give the DEQ winner a free one-year membership to our building’s fitness facility. “This is another opportunity for DEQ to stand at the top of the podium (and be fit enough to climb the podium)!” he told employees.

I’m not one to back away from a challenge. After all, I try to run 5 miles each morning before I start my day, with a goal of attending a fitness class at either the gym or a strength-training class taught by DEQ’s own Cindy Beem. I’m not really motivated by gift certificates or other prizes, just simply trying to stay active and in shape. It also makes me a nicer person if I’ve had a chance to burn off stress even before it starts building.

The challenge for me is the simple fact that once my morning workout is over; I typically sit at my desk for hours throughout the day, focused on the work at hand, without stepping outside my office. The result is that by the end of the day, I’m actually tired – mentally and physically.

So here’s my 10-step plan:
  1. Never take the elevator to get where I’m going; walk up and down the stairs.
  2. Rather than using the phone to talk to someone at DEQ, go to their office and have a face-to-face conversation.
  3. Catch a breath of fresh air by taking a walk.
  4. Add weight lifting to my workout routine.
  5. Stretch more, even at my desk.
  6. Hold staff meetings standing up (it would probably make them shorter, too).
  7. Walk around the office and socialize more.
  8. Get better sleep.
  9. Take transit, where walking to TRAX is necessary, whenever I can.
  10. Walk to a nearby lunch spot once in awhile.
Obviously, these will have more benefits than better health. I’ll get to know people better. Feel refreshed. And hopefully, I will feel less stressful and a nicer person. If this isn’t a reason to celebrate May, there’s also other reasons like: National Bike Month, as celebrated in these blogs. It’s also Mental Health Month, National Stroke Awareness Month, Clean Air Month, Arthritis Awareness Month, Better Hearing and Speech Month, National Mediterranean Diet Month, Lupus Awareness Month, National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, National High Blood Pressure Education Month, Ultraviolet Awareness Month, and Older Americans Month.

What are your plans for May? I challenge anyone to move more, stay fit and healthy, and keep the air clean.

Donna Spangler is the Communications Director for DEQ and a former reporter for the Deseret News. Donna writes a monthly blog post. You can read her previous blog posts at You can follow her on Twitter @deqdonna