A Bike Sharing Enthusiast Twice Over

 

Bike Sharing as Workday Transportation

On workdays, Colonial Systems installation foreman Kevin O’Rourke is a big fan of the kind of bike sharing that’s become increasingly popular with city dwellers. In metro Boston, that means the Bluebikes bicycle sharing system operated by Motivate International and owned by the municipalities of Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, and Brookline in partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts.

The Bluebikes system is designed to be a fun, affordable and convenient transportation option for short hops and touring around town. More than 2,500 of the distinctive, easy-to-ride bicycles are stationed at over 260 strategically selected spots in the metro Boston area. Using a Single Trip ticket, an Adventure Pass, or an Annual Pass to unlock a Bluebike from its dock, you can take a quick one-way trip, a leisurely ride, a commute to school or work, run errands, or explore the city.

When you’re done, return the Bluebike to any station in the system, slide it into a dock, and go on about your business. On many a workday, “going on about your business” for Kevin O’Rourke means going to the Colonial Systems job site where he is the assigned foreman providing supervision, project management, and technical direction for an office furniture installation project. Equipped with an Annual Pass ($99 per year), Kevin has been a Bluebikes rider for more than five years now.

Lowering his commuting costs was Kevin’s initial reason for trying Bluebikes. That was before he was promoted to foreman and was still driving his personal vehicle into the city to work. The parking he found close in to job sites tended to be paid and often expensive parking. It occurred to him that, with the Bluebikes system, he could park his vehicle further from the job site where parking was less expensive or even free, and pick up a Bluebike to go the rest of the way to work.

Now, as a foreman, Kevin has the use of a company van for his travel to job sites. But he still finds good reasons to incorporate the Bluebikes system into his workday.

Kevin explained why: “It’s not unusual to encounter parking facilities that are close to the job site but have vehicle-height restrictions. My only option in those instances may be to park the van far away from the job. Or I might have to leave the job site to attend a project meeting at a nearby location. Or maybe I need to dash out to top up my team’s supplies of something or pick up a common hardware item we’re short on. If I can find a cheaper place to park the Colonial van and still save time overall by using Bluebikes, I figure why not save the company some money? And the exercise is good for me.”

It’s pretty clear from talking with him that Bluebikes has become for Kevin what Uber or Lyft are for other people — a naturally convenient way to get from point A to point B, save time, and eliminate hassle. The little cargo trailer Kevin bought a few years back to haul tools and supplies behind his Bluebikes is a sign that bike sharing is well integrated into his daily routines.

Bike Sharing as Weekend Sport

On weekends you can often find Kevin pedaling through beautiful New England countryside in the close company of Faith, the husky that Kevin got when she was a tad over a year and a half old. Faith, who’s now eight, is Kevin’s constant partner in bikejoring competitions.

Bikejoring? We’ll explain. Starting sometime in the eighteenth century, huskies were identified as Eskimo dogs, a reference to their use in pulling sleds in the Arctic and other snowy regions. In modern times, the husky breed, endowed with great power, energy and stamina, has found new outlets for those traits through various forms of joring, a Norwegian word for driving or pulling. In snowy regions, it’s the competitive sport called skijoring. Participants in the early twentieth century were towed on cross-country skis by reindeer. Now, the power is supplied by horses (equine skijoring) or a dog or team of dogs (dog skijoring). A wide variety of pulling breeds are used but traditionally northern dogs — huskies, malamutes, Samoyeds, and Inuit dogs — are still widely considered the face of dog skijoring. Bikejoring is a warm-weather, dry land variation of the sport. Like skijoring, the pulling is done by a dog or dog team. (Learn more.)

Kevin was already an avid bicyclist for some years when Faith came to live with the O’Rourkes. Like Kevin, Faith had no experience with bikejoring. That was soon to change for man and dog alike.

“After getting Faith,” Kevin said, “I did some research about exercising huskies and got advice from other owners. My wife and I were pretty excited to learn about the bikejoring races. Then we became great friends with another couple who own three huskies and were already into bikejoring. Six years later, we’re still active in the sport and Faith is still very competitive. Bikejoring draws a community of great people.”

A Cycling and Bike Sharing Lifestyle

Kevin got into bicycling during the year he lived in Copenhagen as a younger man. In addition to bikejoring and using Bluebikes for work, he’s done road biking, mountain biking, and spin. (Spin, we gather, is reserved for staying in shape when the worst of New England weather forces even the ardent cyclist indoors.)

Bluebikes figure into Kevin’s leisure activities, too. Kevin and his wife sometimes use the system to exercise and explore on two wheels. They’ve even entertained using Bluebikes.

“My wife and I hosted friends at a concert in the city,” Kevin said. “Our first thought was to take our car to the venue. But when we considered the traffic, travel time, and cost of parking, Bluebikes came to mind straightaway. So we picked up our friends, drove to free parking, then checked out some Bluebikes and cycled to the concert. Perfect, right?”

Kevin won’t take credit for being a good influence but he did say that he’s seen other contractors at Colonial job sites using Bluebikes. And there’s a small but growing number of Colonial installers who are using Bluebikes to get back and forth to the job site after finding free or inexpensive parking.

Credit goes to Billy Harrison, Wayne Rudolph, Aaron Stehlik, Dillon Womble, and any other members of the Colonial Systems field staff who, like Kevin O’Rourke, are putting the Bluebikes system to good use, respecting the environment, and pursuing a healthy lifestyle.

Shared Interest in Sustainability

Kevin O’Rourke’s use of the Bluebikes system is a good example of how smart solutions can benefit the individual (lower expenses, greater convenience, healthy exercise), the natural environment (cleaner air), and society (less urban traffic congestion) all at the same time. We applaud what Kevin and other members of our field staff are doing as Bluebike users. We recognize, too, that they reflect Colonial’s corporate commitment to reduce our carbon footprint, add as little as possible to the solid waste stream, and apply Colonial’s expertise to support our clients’ sustainability objectives.

We had an opportunity recently to discuss our installers’ use of Bluebikes with Jeff Bellows, Vice President for Corporate Citizenship and Public Affairs at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (Blue Cross). Blue Cross is a Colonial Systems client and the lead sponsor of Bluebikes.

In 2015, Blue Cross made a significant commitment to incorporating sustainable materials and chemical-free furniture into the design of their new LEED-certified corporate headquarters at 101 Huntington. Colonial Systems was privileged to be the installation partner for that project, installing all the furniture as well as the architectural wall systems. Excess wall product has been stored and managed at Colonial’s warehouse through our asset management system. Periodically, we are called on to pull specified units from the inventory for transport back to 101 Huntington, where we reinstall it to create reconfigured and even relocated workspace.

“Colonial Systems, as our furniture and wall systems partner, really understands how our facility strategy for our 101 Huntington headquarters supports our company’s commitment to creating healthy environments,” Jeff said. “We believe strongly in the connection between health and the environment and are proud to work with partners like Colonial Systems to create a healthy space for our employees as well as with local communities and not-for-profits to benefit the public.”

Blue Cross is committed to helping Massachusetts residents lead healthy lives. In 2018, the company and the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation contributed $12.1 million in financial grants and pro bono volunteer service to over 500 nonprofit organizations across the Commonwealth. The company believes that healthy people rely on a healthy planet and is focused on supporting solutions that improve air quality. Learn more about Blue Cross’s commitment to Healthy Living.

More on Bluebikes

Blue Cross announced its groundbreaking sponsorship of Bluebikes in early 2018. The six-year partnership features system upgrades, with brand new bikes, a new mobile app, and valet services at busy stations as well as increases in the number of bikes and communities served. Blue Cross has committed to add 1,200 new bikes and 100 new stations throughout Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, and Brookline by 2020.

More than 6.5 million bike share rides have been taken since Boston launched the public bike share system in 2011, and it has become an integral part of the regional transportation network, providing first- and last-mile solutions and offsetting more than 8.3 million tons of carbon.

“The Bluebikes sponsorship was the perfect fit for us because of our focus on healthy living,” Jeff said. “Through this opportunity we are able to expand access to bike sharing and provide residents with a convenient and affordable transportation option that benefits not only their personal health but protects our environment as well. It is exciting to see Kevin and the other Colonial Systems employees taking advantage of all the benefits Bluebikes has to offer.”

Learn more at the Bluebikes website.

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