As part of its goal to promote health, the environment, and safe streets, the Rye YMCA kicked off a Bike to the Y program on a Sunday in March.
By Bill Lawyer
As part of its goal to promote health, the environment, and safe streets, the Rye YMCA kicked off a Bike to the Y program on a Sunday in March. A morning event was held for adults, and an afternoon event for families.
The program was developed by staff members Denise Woodin, Scott Umbel, Denise Cypher, and Lisa Urban. Planning help was also provided by volunteer Susan Gervais.
A small amount of funding for the program came from the United Way of Westchester, but most of the costs were covered by donations of goods and services. Staff from Miller’s Bike Shop in Mamaroneck offered free bike safety checks, and Cosi and Rye Beverage provided refreshments. All attendees were given bike bells, donated by the East Coast Greenway Alliance.
While attendance was low – six adults and 35 family members — those who participated expressed appreciation that biking was being encouraged as an alternative to driving a car.
Woodin noted that “not only is biking to the Y a way to get additional exercise, but it also helps with the Y’s not having enough parking spaces for all its members.” The Y has about 99 marked parking spaces, plus a few handicapped spaces. On rainy days or at peak usage times, even valet parking can’t help the congestion. She also pointed out that biking reduces traffic, idling, and exhaust pollutants.
The other component of Bike to the Y Day was the introduction of an on-going incentive program. Each time members ride to the Y, they can come into the lobby, show their bike helmet, and have their incentive card punched. Ten punches results in being awarded a Y water bottle. Twenty punches and you receive a Y T-shirt. And 40 punches will be rewarded with a $25 gift credit card.
As of early July, 21 people have obtained incentive cards, said Woodin. She feels that interest has picked up since the program began. Information about it was sent out in the Y members’ bulletin, and posters are being put up around the facility promoting it. Several people have told her that it’s “a great idea.” So far, the only negative feedback came from a member who feels he lives too far away to make biking a reasonable alternative to driving.
At present, the Y has only one bike rack that holds six bicycles. “I guess we’ll have to get more if the program takes off,” said Woodin. She also noted that if the bike rack is full, people could lock their bikes to the fence that runs along the brook.
As part of the Bike program, the Y has also encouraged its own employees to do it. One person who answered the call is Membership Engagement worker Fred deBarros. He works the 5 a.m. to noon shift Tuesdays through Thursdays, and bikes from his home on Peck Avenue.
While he has many reasons for participating, deBarros says that most importantly, “I like the idea that I am guaranteed a parking space without taking up a space for one of our members.”
A lifelong resident of Rye, he started biking many years ago for exercise. The incentive card program is not a motivating factor for him. But he agrees that the program might encourage people who hadn’t considered using a bike.
So far no one has come in to collect an incentive reward, but Woodin says that she’s looking forward to handing over as many prizes as she can. In this contest, everybody who enters wins!