Friday, December 19, 2008

Rideshare morphs into new non-profit

Bike Coalition comes on board


Sean McLaughlin rides his studded-tire bike for all his errands. "Itís safer than driving or walking; you just have to watch for the other guy," he laughed. Photo by David N. Seelig

Mountain riders just got some new friends. A new non-profit organization hopes to raise money and awareness for alternative transportation in the Wood River Valley. The organization was founded as Wood River Rideshare, but will take a new name: Friends of Mountain Rides.

Earlier this year the organization's board of directors oversaw the transition of all of Wood River Rideshare's programs and staff to the Mountain Rides Regional Transportation Authority.

Rideshare's original mission was to create and oversee a wide variety of programs and services including regional commuter transit, vanpool, ride-matching, Safe Routes to School and the Community Challenge, which were all accomplished.

The mission of the newly-named group is to support community efforts to create and sustain a balanced multi-modal transportation system in Blaine County and adjacent communities, said Board President Eiron Schofield.

Earlier this year the organization applied for and received grants to build bus shelters. One has been placed at the Park & Ride in Hailey and the group is looking to work with the valley's cities to place more.

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One initiative of the renamed Friends of Mountain Rides is to help fundraising efforts to support the Wood River Bicycle Coalition. That group formed this past summer after the valley received a League of American Bicycles Bicycle Friendly Community designation. The Coalition, led by organizer Sean McLaughlin is working to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety, education and access.

The new collaboration means the Bike Coalition has moved out from under the Blaine County Recreation District, which was serving as its initial umbrella.

"It's a natural fit for the organization," said McLaughlin. "It allows us to apply for grants and look for fundraising through Friends of Mountain Rides. They're a great partner." It also grows the board at Mountain Rides, now that McLaughlin and Scott Montgomery have joined that board.

Among the group's long-range goals is to hire a regional bicycle coordinator.

Friends of Mountain Rides will accept donations for any local transportation-related program and will distribute the funds to the appropriate program operator. For more information about the organization contact Schofield at 726-3691. To learn more about the Wood River Bicycle Coalition visit woodriverbike.org.




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