Although they differ on the specifics, Democrats and Republicans alike recognize the need to reduce America’s carbon footprint. In 2008, Humana helped them come together on a “bike-partisan” basis to do just that.
Working with leaders in the cycling industry and with the advocacy group, Bikes Belong, Humana brought 1,000 bicycles to each national party convention and invited anyone—delegates, journalists and local residents alike—to ride the bikes free of charge. Humana associates volunteered their time to staff Freewheelin bike stations, getting up at 4 a.m. to reach their posts and working long days outdoors regardless of sun or rain so the host cities could experience the pure joy of riding a bicycle.
Results of the Freewheelin program far exceeded expectations. Participants logged over 7,500 rides and 41,000 miles and reduced their carbon footprint by 14.6 metric tons in eight days.
Perhaps the best outcome of all was that convention delegates returned home with a clear understanding of how bike-sharing programs can reduce pollution and increase convenience in local communities. And the convention host cities will continue to showcase these benefits, enjoying the seeds of bike-sharing programs Humana donated at each location.
Freewheelin first took a spin around Louisville in 2007 as a fun and healthful way for Humana’s associates to travel between local offices. Since then, the idea has continued to move forward, with Humana-sponsored bike-sharing programs popping up at the 2008 Idea Festival in Louisville and at three National Park Service sites in Washington, D.C., in addition to the 2008 political conventions.
Of course, Freewheelin benefits people as much as it helps the planet. Participants at the political conventions burned nearly 1.3 million calories as they rode around town. And the program continues to lead the race toward wellness via fun activities; an online “exergame” called the Freewheelin Cycle Challenge lets players race against virtual opponents, gaining speed as they capture nutritious snacks and losing energy when they roll over junk food.