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Council eyes bus-bike project

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Proposal would encourage automobile-free lifestyle in city

In what city officials and others are touting as perhaps the first of its kind, the Santa Fe City Council on Wednesday directed city staff to create a program that will provide a bus pass rebate on Santa Fe Trails buses for locals who buy or fix up a bicycle.

Such a program will “encourage residents to live automobile-free which is in the best interest of the public health and the environment of the city of Santa Fe” and help the local economy, a resolution approved by the council said.

“This is something that I think isn’t done in other parts of the country, from what I understand… this is something cutting edge,” sponsor Councilor Carmichael Dominguez said.

Economic and environmental justice organization Chainbreaker Collective has been the driving force behind the idea. Chainbreaker has provided more than 1,000 bikes to low-income people through its “hands-on” Bicycle Resource Center.

Chainbreaker director Tomás Rivera said the program will help low-income people who are often forced to chose between buying a bus pass or purchasing a bike. He and others have said in the past the program should especially help people who have a distance to travel beyond a bus stop, known as the “first and last mile barrier.”

People will be able to participate by purchasing a bike or equipment from a participating business or by “acquiring” a bike by “providing volunteer services to a participating bicycle vendor,” which would cover Chainbreaker activities. City officials say any business, including big-box stores which sell bikes, or nonprofit can sign up for the program.

The program will be funded with $50,000 in capital improvements project money originally set aside for a bike-sharing program. Councilor Patti Bushee, a co-sponsor of the resolution, said that a recent study showed that a bike-sharing program, where city-owned bikes are used by residents and then left for the next rider, may not be the best fit for Santa Fe.

Councilor Peter Ives voted for the resolution but said he wants to talk further with the City Attorney’s Office about ensuring the program doesn’t conflict with the state’s anti-donation clause, which bars the use of public resources for private entities.

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