PUTNEY -- After a year off the road, the Putney Bike Project could be rolling again this season.
Putney Energy Committee Director Daniel Hoviss is trying to win a grant to get the free bike program going again in the spring.
Hoviss and the rest of the energy committee decided to shut down the program because too many people were abusing the bicycles.
And with a major paving project under way last summer, Hoviss said it seemed like good time to put the bikes away for a season and reassess the program.
Now Hoviss said the Putney Energy Committee, with Transition Putney and other community members, are working to make sure the bicycles are respected and cared for once they are set out for the public to use.
"The program was successful, and we know that a lot of people were using the bikes," said Hoviss. "But we figured that there must be a better way, and we are trying to figure out what that is."
The Putney Bike Project started in April 2007 with five bicycles and two racks.
The project was started to cut down on motor vehicle use in the village and anyone was allowed to get on a bike and travel around town.
Before the program was stopped last year there were up to 15 bicycles with racks in three or four locations around Putney.
Hoviss said the bikes had to be put away when too many young people were taking them away from the village center and returning them caked with mud and dirt and in disrepair.
Hoviss said the committee is still finalizing plans for an improved free bike program which will probably include registering and some kind of a lock system which would be operable by those who register.
The Putney Energy Committee is also working with Connecticut River Transit to possibly build kiosks and waiting areas so bikes can be dropped off where people wait for the bus.
Hoviss hopes the new group that comes together to support the bike project will be able to advocate for better bike lanes, offer maintenance classes and help develop other bike projects in southern Vermont.
The Putney Energy Committee is applying for a grant of up to $3,000 from the New England Grassroots Environmental Fund, which recently received U.S. Department of Energy money through Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders’ office for projects in the state that save energy and reduce greenhouse gas.
The Vermont Energy Climate Action Network is processing the grant applications.
"People have been asking when we will be coming back," Hoviss said. "We’re looking forward to a whole new season of green bike transport."
Anyone who wants to write a letter of support for the grant for the Putney Bike Project can e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at email@example.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 279.