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Friday, July 5, 2013

Checking In On Chattanooga’s Bike Share

(Flickr/Elly Blue)

(Flickr/Elly Blue)

Bike sharing programs are cropping up in big cities around the country: from New York to Miami to Chicago.

And Chattanooga, Tennessee has been running one of the first bike shares in a small southern city for a year.

Phil Pugliese, the bicycle coordinator for Outdoor Chattanooga, which runs the bike share, says there are unique challenges.

“We are in what is often termed the stroke belt,” he told Here & Now. “We have high rates of hypertension, diabetes, obesity and so introducing bicycling to change that cultural dynamic is something we’re really interested in being part of.”

Pugliese thinks the Chattanooga bike sharing program already is getting people interested in being active.

“We’ve had people who haven’t been on a bike… in 20 plus years, and they get out, and are now riding their bike out to lunch,” Pugliese said.

Funding Challenges

New York City’s bike program has corporate sponsorship from Citibank, but mid-size cities like Chattanooga have to rely on other sources of funding.

“We are going to be dependent on membership revenue,” Pugliese said. “We do have some local sponsorship and advertising revenue, but it definitely is a more challenging equation in smaller media markets like ours.”

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Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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