A new bikeshare program is giving employees at the McNamara Headquarters Complex a new fitness option that will allow them to get outdoors and enjoy the areas around Fort Belvoir, Va., while staying active.
The program, which is one of the first initiatives to come out of DLA’s involvement as a pilot site for the Healthy Base Initiative, provides 15 bicycles for use by all employees in the complex as a way to expand available fitness opportunities, said Bethany Sweatman, a management analyst for the DLA Installation Support Business Office at Fort Belvoir, Va., who is one of the leaders of the Healthy Base Initiative program for DLA.
“The intent is to expand the range of fitness opportunities that we provide for people, recognizing that there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to fitness,” Sweatman said. “People have different needs, interests and things they enjoy doing, so this is just an extension of that to provide another recreational opportunity.”
The bikes were available starting June 14 and can be used by any employee in the headquarters complex, Sweatman said. To check out and use the bikes, employees need to visit the HQC Fitness Center, where they will fill out a form acknowledging their responsibilities when using the bikes, she said. They can then ride the bikes anywhere on or off Fort Belvoir. No time limit has yet been set for the use of the bikes, she noted, but it will likely be set at one hour per use.
To go along with the bikeshare program, DLA has created an agency bicycle policy that outlines employees’ safety responsibilities when using the bikes, said Gloria Edwards, the subsistence commodity manager in DLA Logistics Operations Strategic Initiatives Division, who is also a leader of the DLA HQ HBI program. These responsibilities include the requirement for riders to wear a bicycle helmet, closed-toe shoes and brightly colored clothing and to secure loose pant legs. Employees are encouraged to bring their own safety gear, but the fitness center will have a limited number of helmets available. Employees are also not allowed to use cell phones, headphones or other listening devices while using the bicycles on or adjacent to roadways on any Defense Department installation. Other safety requirements include allowing only one person on a bicycle at a time, passing motorists with care, using the streets rather than the sidewalks for riding, and knowing who to contact in case of an emergency. Sweatman noted that each bicycle will have a tag with emergency contact numbers in case of an accident or equipment malfunction.
Employees also need to be aware that bicyclists are required to follow the same laws as motor vehicles, and need to thoroughly understand those requirements before using the bikes, Edwards said. Some basic bicycle safety tips include:
-- Ride with traffic.
-- Stop and look both ways before entering the street.
-- New or inexperienced riders should stop at all intersections.
-- Before turning, use hand signals and look all ways.
-- Be a responsible bicyclist; obey all traffic control devices and use proper hand signals.
-- Ride defensively; anticipate the actions of other road users and watch for road hazards.
-- Pass vehicles with extreme care; turning vehicles may not see you.
-- Be aware of motor vehicle blind spots while riding or when stopped at an intersection.
-- Walk your bicycle when you get into traffic situations beyond your cycling abilities.
-- Exercise great caution when riding in bus traffic; watch out for buses pulling to and from curbs and passengers getting on and off buses.
-- Use bicycle racks or park your bicycle so you do not block sidewalks, disabled accesses, building accesses or emergency drives.
Following these tips and being aware of safety regulations will ensure employees can enjoy the bikeshare program, Edwards said. She said she hopes the program encourages exercise among people who prefer outdoor activities to exercising in the Fitness Center.
“We want employees to be able to go out and enjoy themselves during their fitness time,” she said. “Whatever their goal is, whether it’s just to enjoy a bike ride or to lose weight, we want them to be safe and enjoy themselves.”