Janesville59.8°

GM plant’s loss is Madison’s gain

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JAMES P. LEUTE
February 15, 2008
— While you’re not likely to see Janesville-made Suburbans and Tahoes tooling down pedestrian-friendly State Street in Madison, keep an eye out for another product of the local plant.

The General Motors assembly plant in Janesville is donating its fleet of about 120 bicycles to Madison’s Red Bike Program, which allows community members to check out bikes for use around town.


For decades, workers at the Janesville plant have used bikes to tool around the 4.8 million-square-foot facility. While GM purchased some of the bikes, others were brought in by workers who found the two-wheeled method of transportation much more efficient for getting around the sprawling facility.


But as part of a safety initiative, the local plant is replacing its in-house bikes with trikes.


“The three-wheeled tricycles are just safer than the two-wheeled bikes,” said plant spokeswoman Mary Fanning.


Don Primmer, GM’s on-site resource manager for Waste Management, said the initial thought was to scrap the old bikes.


“But that seemed like a real waste,” he said.


So he investigated other options and found the Red Bike Program, which is run out Budget Bicycles on Regent Street, to be the perfect destination. Budget relies heavily upon trade-ins and donations for its supply. The bikes get a safety check, restoration, reassembly and, ultimately, a red paint job.


One shipment of bikes went to Madison last week. Another is expected early next week.


In the meantime, workers at the Janesville plant are starting to see shipments of the new tricycles, which GM is buying through Michael’s Cycle’s in Janesville.



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