By Amanda Becker
Monday, May 24, 2010; 12
Commuting by bicycle from Alexandria to Nixon Peabody's office on 9th Street in Northwest on a regular basis gives Jeffrey S. Lesk plenty of time to think.
Over the years, Lesk's ideas have resulted in the formation of the firm's sustainability initiative, moving into a LEED-certified office in San Francisco and now, a bike rental program open to the firm's 200 Washington-based employees.
"The first time I saw something like this was traveling in Europe several years ago," said Lesk, managing partner of the firm's Washington office.
Places such as Paris and Barcelona have city-wide bike sharing programs. Lesk thought he might do something on a smaller scale for employees in his office.
For advice, Lesk turned to Revolution Cycles, which had helped him select a hybrid 21-gear Trek bike that was specifically designed for use on city streets for his wife recently. The thicker tires, fenders, racks and flashing lights made it ideal for schlepping materials to a meeting or running errands.
The firm purchased three bikes of varying sizes to launch the program in conjunction with Bike to Work Day on May 21. Employees can check them out from the receptionist at the front desk after signing a waiver and release. The firm also provides helmets and locks. Lesk said that if the program is successful, he expects the firm to buy more bikes.
The main obstacle to implementing the program was finding a place to store the bikes when they weren't in use. The bike cage in the garage for commuters was already packed. The building's owner, Boston Properties, stepped in and gave the firm another dedicated cage in the parking garage.
The program comes at a time when the city is becoming increasingly attuned to the needs of cyclists. Two bike lanes down the center of Pennsylvania Avenue were just completed. The District Department of Transportation plans to increase the miles of bike lanes from 45 to 80 and expand the city's SmartBike rental program. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty is known to enjoy some midday cycling.
"It started as an idea to have an alternative for people who are traveling around the city," Lesk said of Nixon Peabody's program. "But there's nothing wrong if people wanted to take bikes out at noon and go for a ride."