Green and Lean in Salem



Salem Spins bikes are stationed in front of the Hawthorne Hotel and at the Boston Harbor Cruises office.

Photos by Fawn DeViney

Anyone who has ever driven along Route 114 in Salem knows that the traffic can be a challenging stop-and-go endeavor. Next time you visit the city, why not take a ride on one of its city bikes? Salem Spins was established in 2011 after the city was awarded a government grant for its sustainability efforts, enabling the historical town to purchase 24 commuter bikes for a new bike-share program. The bikes, stationed at the Hawthorne Hotel and Salem State University’s campus police station, are a great way for both residents and visitors to get around Witch City. The program has been so popular that Salem Spins just opened a third hub next to the Boston Harbor Cruises office, adding eight new bikes.

“The bike-share has been hugely successful,” says Jeffrey Elie, energy and sustainability manager for the Department of Planning and Community Development for the city. “We modeled the bike-share after university bike-share programs rather than big cities like Boston or Washington, D.C.” It’s pretty easy and convenient to use; just go to the desk of the Hawthorne Hotel or Boston Harbor Cruises office, show a valid ID and credit card, and sign a user agreement. There is no fee or time limit—the bike is yours to peddle to your heart’s content. The only drawback is that the bikes are not interchangeable at the different stations. “You need to return your bike to the place you picked the bike up originally,” says Elie. “We just ask that they are back at dusk, since the bikes don’t have lights.”

“Salem has been really forward thinking in its sustainability efforts,” notes Elie. A daily five-mile ride can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 16 pounds per year according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The health benefits are also impressive— a five-mile ride can burn 300 calories for an average-sized person. “We have a couple thousand people participating in the program,” says Elie. “Other communities on the North Shore, such as Newburyport, are starting to look into bike-share programs, as well.” The city also has plans to extend its bike trails from downtown to Salem State. Salem just might become the greenest and fittest community on the North Shore. salem.com

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