State employees offered bikes to rent as option for downtown trips

State employees needing transportation for business purposes within the city of Sacramento can now request a car or a bicycle.

Several departments have their own bike-sharing programs for employees, most funded through grants, said Brian Ferguson, a spokesman for the California Department of General Services. Based on the positive response to those programs, he said, General Services decided to make bicycles available to employees of any department through the State Garage on 10th Street in downtown Sacramento. The State Employee BikeShare Program launched Tuesday.

Ferguson said the state purchased 12 bicycles, costing less than $200 each, which employees may rent for business purposes.

“It’s an opportunity to get people out of their cars and get them on bikes,” Ferguson said.

Employees can reserve bicycles online just as they do state cars, and the bicycles will be maintained by staff members at the state garage.

Ferguson said he expects that the bicycles available through General Services will be used primarily by employees working in state offices within a few blocks of the 10th Street garage.

The California Department of Public Health recently celebrated the two-year anniversary of its BikeShare program. The bicycles are available to department employees to travel to downtown meetings, run errands or exercise during lunch breaks.

Department of Public Health officials noted that BikeShare began with just six commuter bikes and now has more than 50 at a total of nine state departments and agencies. Unlike the program introduced by General Services, the department and agency-based bikes are provided through a public-private partnership, with no state funds used to purchase the bikes, officials said.

Michael Marks, a Department of Public Health spokesman, said he has used the BikeShare bicycles.

“I get exercise, have access to a greater array of restaurants, am reducing air pollution and I don’t have to battle for downtown parking spaces,” he said.

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy