Guest editorial: Teens need Summit County’s e-bike share the most. So why are they banned?
Climate change is real. Our wonderful town of Park City is making some great decisions, as a town and as individuals, that help towards reaching some needed intervention goals. Carbon reduction is a hard fact to fathom, and creates stress for many, when considering what we, as individuals, can best contribute to reducing our impact.
I never use single use plastics.
I reduce, re-use and recycle avidly and with care.
I drive a car with a high mpg.
I heat my home less.
I invest in solar.
I don’t use air conditioning.
I make my kids ride the bus.
I use half my water share.
I carefully consider the meat that we as a family eat.
I actively eliminate all our food leftovers.
Will this make a difference? Who knows.
Today, my son asked for me to drive him to school, and I dropped him at the bus station with a smile. His plan was to take the bus and then ride the electric bike. Perfect. I save a trip, he gets some exercise and some fun into the bargain.
But no. He was stopped by the “bike police” who wouldn’t let him use the e-bike because he was not 18.
This is a kid who has commuted around Park City on the bus for four years, saving thousands of miles in my car. He recently asked if he could use the e-bikes, which brought an added degree of mobility. He can now commute to Quinn’s Junction, and around the center of town quickly and efficiently. All trips that in the past I had to drive him.
But no. The e-bike share is limited to adults over 18. Forgive me, but I rarely use the bus and e-bike system myself and don’t know any adults or kids over 16 who do. I don’t use it to commute to the grocery store, or to my appointments, or to run my business. I don’t use it to ferry younger children around town. I don’t know of many kids in town who pass the age of 16 and don’t have access to a car, or a ride from a friend. Sadly, the only people I do see on the e-bikes are typically out-of-town guests having fun.
I DO know, however, 11- to 16-year-old, pre-driving-age teens and tweens who are savvy, safe and responsible. They are the very people that should have first access to the e-bike network, and they should be rewarded for that effort, not restrained.
This week alone, my son’s use of the e-bike reduced my trips by 10-15. That was a solid 75 miles saved in one car. One kid.
We see headlines about a movement of climate conscious youth around the world. Last week, 16-year-old Greta Thunberg sailed halfway around the world to make her case directly to our Congress. Yet here in Park City the same aged kids are precluded from participating in a small but meaningful piece of progress that fits their needs better than any other.
Rather than charging $30 per month for the use (or not) of this service, I believe this age group should be awarded free use, and should be highlighted as ambassadors of the program. If we need to charge Park City’s guests to use the bikes for fun, that is fine, but let’s incentivize residents to use them for free. If we don’t, the program is not going to deliver any meaningful change to our traffic or pollution pattern, yet we as residents pay both per ride and in tax dollars.
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Park City school leaders write in a letter to the editor that this school year will be different, but the mission of educating students remains.