Lifestyle

Vashon bike share program aims to inspire Islanders to ride around town

Jeff Ammon shows off some of Vashon’s new bike share bicycles. - Susan Riemer/staff photo
Jeff Ammon shows off some of Vashon’s new bike share bicycles.
— image credit: Susan Riemer/staff photo

Vashon Island Bicycle owner Jeff Ammon was talking recently with the Backbone Campaign’s Bill Moyer about their hopes to create a new community bike program, and Ammon said to Moyer what they really needed to bring the program to life were some bike frames and parts.

Two hours later, Ammon recalled, July Mulhair, owner of the Vashon Hostel, brought a truck load of old bikes by and asked Ammon if he might like them, or if she should take them to the dump instead.

“It was just awesome,” Ammon said. “It was obviously meant to be.”

With her donation, Ammon’s repair skills and the financial help of some other Islanders who contributed to it through the Backbone Campaign, the Vashon Bike Share Program is up and rolling.

The vivid green bikes, mostly with one speed and rather heavy, are perfect for “toolin’ around,” Ammon said. “People can park their car in one place and run their errands around town on a bike.”

Each bike has a large basket, the perfect size, Ammon said, for three or four gigantic bags of groceries.

When people are done with the bikes, they can return them to any community bike rack or the bike shop.

Should something go wrong with a bike, Ammon wants to know so he can fix it; he hopes people will not just abandon the bike in a ditch if it needs attention.

“Nobody cares if it gets a flat or something is broken,” he said. “There is not a penalty for breaking one.”

There are two women’s and three men’s bike’s currently, in various sizes, so older kids can ride, too. Ammon still has some of Mulhair’s donated bikes, 10 or 15 in all, and if the first five bikes are well used, he will repair some more for community use.

Ammon said he has done a couple other community bike projects before, and the bikes have disappeared. He expects that will happen this time as well, but if it does not, the bikes themselves should last a long time.

While Ammon is an old hat at this kind of program, it is a new type of project for the Backbone Campaign. After working on the national scene for years, the campaign is turning its attention to local issues and community-supported activism, according to Moyer, executive director of the Backbone Campaign.

At a fundraising event for the campaign earlier this summer, several Vashon community members showed their support for the campaign and its new work of trying to stop Glacier Northwest from mining on Maury Island, and its work of creating a more sustainable, livable community — including the shared bike program.

Now that the bikes are on the streets, Moyer hopes they will be well used and will plant seeds of possibility in others’ minds.

“Our hope is that the Bike Share Program is not the end but an inspiration to the other people,” Moyer said, adding that shared electric golf carts downtown would be a nice addition to the community, too.

Officials at the Backbone Campaign extend a thank you to the people who donated for the program at the fundraising event: Leslie Ferriel, Brenda Sestrap, Bob Spivey, Marie Stanislaw, Sue Trevathian and Barbara Waterbury.

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