With the past few days of thaw reminding the city of spring waiting around the corner, Kay Nessland came to talk to Havre City Council about an idea to encourage people to enjoy the coming warmth.
At Monday night’s meeting, Nessland, speaking on behalf of OPEN GYM — Obesity Prevention Education Nutrition Getting You Moving — wanted to know how to move forward in setting up a system of community bicycles to be borrowed from and returned to pre-designated locations around town.
OPEN GYM, a subcommittee of the Hill County Health Consortium, has been working with the Havre Police Department, Montana State University-Northern and Havre Public Schools on building the program.
Students at the university and Havre High School would build bike racks. And the bikes on them, donated or purchased by the community, could be painted blue and white or maroon and gold to commemorate the institutions. Nessland said they still had to iron out details of maintenance and storage.
Havre Mayor Tim Solomon recommended that Nessland take the discussion up with the Havre Parks and Recreation Department.
City Council member Rick Dow asked Nessland why the city should just provide bicycles, rather than encourage the community to buy bikes from local retailers.
While Nessland didn’t exactly understand at the time the point Dow was trying to make, she said this morning that the program was necessary because, “a lot of people can’t afford bikes and don’t have bikes.”
At the meeting she replied with a counter to a common criticism that the bikes would just be stolen, by saying, “Well I hope they at least ride them and get more healthy.”
Nessland said she had heard from the Blaine County Health Department that similar programs were starting in Chinook and Harlem, and have already had success in cities such as Missoula and Billings.