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PEDAL PUSHERS ROLL INTO REPUBLICAN AND DEMOCRATIC CONVENTIONS
Delegates at this year’s Republican and Democratic national conventions have an opportunity to be healthier and more active than delegates in the past. Gone are the smoke filled rooms and heart unhealthy foods since the first conventions held in Baltimore (1832) for the Democrats and in Pittsburgh (1856) for the Republicans. Today’s conventioneer will be greeted with the likes of healthier mac 'n cheese made with cauliflower puree, ceviche tacos, and blackened ahi tuna entrees... recipes their forbearers would never have dreamed of eating let alone pronounced.
The hectic convention schedules remain the same with lunches, dinners, and receptions until 1 or 2am every evening. The actual working sessions go from 9:30am to 11 pm. Unless the delegates rise early and run, walk or do their own form of Paul Ryan’s P90X routine, the moments for getting the circulation going other than jumping up to clap are slim.
One health conscious company, Humana, Inc., however, has a solution, for the delegates... by providing them with pedal buses or “bus-cycles” as a human powered way to get around the host cities. Humana Inc., a health care company headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky that offers a wide range of insurance products and health and wellness services, is providing 20 “Freewheelin pedal buses” at each convention.
“We promote and support healthy events,” said Dr. William E. Hauser, Jr, Humana’s regional medical director of Senior Products for the Southeast Region. “We want to make the experience healthy and fun.”
The pedal buses are operated by a driver and five riders on the outer seats who work together to pedal the bus, while the three riders in the center seats can simply enjoy the ride.
Quadra cycles, or surreys, have existed for many years as amusement park or tourist attractions. However, the Freewheelin pedal bus is the first to take the shape of a modern-day automobile. Given all of the political activity that will take place at both conventions, good conversation is sure to be had on a Freewheelin pedal bus.
Spending just 30 minutes pedaling a bike at a leisurely pace can burn between 140 to 380 calories and, for every mile pedaled rather than driven, nearly one pound of carbon dioxide (CO2) (0.88 lbs) is kept out of the air.
The pedal buses not only provide an opportunity to get some exercise, but also provide shaded relief from the summer sun. With no motors, the buses allow people to get around town in an environmentally responsible way while, at the same time, providing a chance to socialize with others from around the world.
Freewheelin pedal bus stations will be open each convention day from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and on the Sundays prior to the conventions from 1 to 7 p.m. Convention-goers can register quickly with any Freewheelin representative at all Freewheelin stations. Leader boards will foster healthy competition between RNC and DNC riders by tracking miles ridden, calories burned and carbon offset, determining which host city is the healthiest.
News media, convention-goers and local residents are also invited to take advantage of Freewheelin, which is provided free of charge. The pedal buses will follow pre-set routes in each city, making stops close to the convention perimeter and popular downtown destinations.
Riders can hop on a pedal bus at any of the three Freewheelin stations in each downtown, which will also offer complimentary fruit, water and biometric health screenings, such as blood pressure and BMI checks. Both the bus-cycles and the stations are shaded so riders can take a moment to cool off.
The Freewheelin pedal bus program is the evolution of the Freewheelin bike-sharing initiative that began as an employee program at Humana’s Louisville campus in 2007. Humana then went on to introduce large-scale bike-sharing to the nation at the 2008 political conventions. In partnership with Bikes Belong, the nation’s leading bicycling-advocacy organization, Freewheelin took 1,000 bikes and multiple bike stations to Denver for the DNC and Minneapolis-St. Paul for the RNC, supplying individuals with easy and free access to bicycles.
Humana encourages anyone attending the conventions to take part in Freewheelin and join the conversation online: @freewheelin2012 or #freewheelin on Twitter; Facebook at facebook.com/gofreewheelin; or www.freewheelin2012.com.
Weather reports for the upcoming Republican convention might cause the buses to be renamed “puddle jumpers,” but planners are hoping for better weather forecasts to allow for such outdoor activity.