- Associated Press - Friday, January 30, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - In the eight months he spent aboard the sturdy yellow rental bike, Garth Brazelton could have ridden to Cincinnati and back 2 1/2 times and from Chicago to Louisville, Kentucky, and back once.

But he never left Downtown Indianapolis.

Yet Brazelton is the reigning, if undeclared, champion of the Pacers Bikeshare program for 2014. The 34-year-old rode more easy-pedaling miles - 590 - on the basketed 3-speeds than any other renter.

They included daily trips to work along the stop-and-go Cultural Trail, jaunts to restaurants in Fountain Square and stops at the grocery store.

It computed to 2.7 miles a day and added up to a first-place finish, barely ahead of the second-place finisher, who logged 573 miles.

Though there’s no prize money, trophy, quart of milk or visit to the White House for coming in first, it’s something the Bikeshare points leader said he aimed for.

“One of my goals in 2014 was to break into the top 10,” Brazelton, who took 387 trips in 244 days and has kept pedaling through the winter of 2015, told The Indianapolis Star (https://indy.st/1uIHclW ).

Bikeshare launched on April 22. Shortly after buying his $80 yearly pass, Brazelton noticed the program kept track of who rode the most miles and took the most trips.

“When I saw I had broken into the top 10, I decided I’d go for it,” said Brazelton, a director for the Indiana Economic Development Corp. “It wasn’t a super-competitive thing on my part but more of a motivator to keep riding the bike.”

Brazelton said he checked the rankings about once a week to see where the competition stood and occasionally took an extra weekend ride to increase his mileage. He didn’t know any of the other top five users but briefly considered ways of upping the ante.

“I thought of doing a little Facebook stalking on the person closest to me to offer a little challenge but thought that would be a little much,” Brazelton said.

The Bikeshare program has exceeded ridership expectations, and the city plans to add bikes and places to park them, said Karen Haley, executive director of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail.

Riders have taken more than 92,000 trips on the bikes. July was the busiest month, with 16,998 rides, and January the slowest, with 1,239 rides so far.

Rentals cost $80 for a year and $8 a day, so the yearly membership is a much better bargain.

“It’s a great deal for a commuter,” said Brazelton, whose costs for the year came to 13.6 cents per mile and 20 cents a trip.

Unlike some Bikeshare commuters, who are already avid bikers and use the rentals the way a sports car owner would use his old Ford to get to work, Brazelton didn’t even own a bike.

“Mine got stolen about two years ago,” he said.

Brazelton rides about 1 1/2 miles from his condo on Massachusetts Avenue to the Capitol One building Downtown, an 11-minute trip. He parks it at a Bikeshare station at Meridian and Washington streets.

On the way home, he has stopped for groceries Downtown, at businesses for shopping and at a health club near Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

On a 35-degree day last week, Brazelton hopped aboard the bike after work at 5 p.m. sharp. He wore a lightweight black jacket, unzipped, gray slacks and a tie, a winter cap pulled low over his ears and a pair of mittens.

He said the cold seldom bothered him.

“It’s only 11 minutes,” he said. “I should be able to handle that.”

On weekends, Brazelton has ridden the bike the length of the Cultural Trail for exercise and/or sightseeing.

“They’re not meant to go 40 miles, but they are great for what they are built for: short trips,” he said. “They’re well-maintained and handled well in the winter and cold.”

He has skipped only a couple of days riding to work, usually because of weather.

“Once, when the wind chill was minus 20 and a couple times if it is really pouring down rain,” Brazelton said. “Otherwise, I’m on it every day.”

___

Information from: The Indianapolis Star, https://www.indystar.com

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