Bike Smart – Take II

October 13th, 2010

Over the summer, I got a neat brochure in the mail that was so stylish and interesting that I actually responded to it (see Bike Smart: Indeed., and outraged taxpayer comment, below).

I was jazzed about the idea of a bike ambassador coming to my home with a kit and information, and decided to experiment. I requested online a packet to be sent to my PO box, then sent in the card for an ambassador to bring me one en casa. I know, double dipping. So sue me!

But in the end, this was a single dip. My ambassador stood me up. Never showed. Didn’t call, didn’t text.

I did get the packet at the post office, and it had all kinds of useful info that made me wish I was a more serious bike rider, like this incredibly detailed bike map (who knew there was so much to know?).

I was curious about why I’d been stood up, so I contacted Bike Smart. The very friendly Serena let me know that the ambassadors were “maxed out” and therefore didn’t reach all the folks who’d requested their services. She said she hoped I’d received a packet in the mail (nope) and offered to send one if I hadn’t.

Now, the outraged taxpayer comment below came from a colleague I like and respect very much, so I felt a responsibility to respond to his protests, and investigated with Serena.

It turns out that yes, the ambassadors are paid. Besides delivering Bike Smart Packets they also participate in community events and run helmet sales for the public.

And the funding does come from our taxes, but ones levied as the result of a proposition called Bridging the Gap, a nine-year, $365 million levy for transportation maintenance and improvements passed by our very own citizens in 2006.

Proposition To Dos for the Seattle Department of Transportation include “Provide funding to implement the Bicycle Master Plan,” an ever so slightly sinister sounding initiative that, despite the snappy brochure it engendered, still left this consumer feeling a bit jilted.

So what’s the moral of this tale?

1. Keep your promises, especially spectacular ones like hand-delivered bike info (or at least use a disclaimer like “while ambassadors last”)

2. If your program exists because citizens voted it into existence, that might not be a bad thing to include in your literature

And now, I think I’ll go for a ride. Yes, in the rain.

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