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VOL. 37 | NO. 37 | Friday, September 13, 2013

Bicycle delivery helps magazine pedal greener path

By Hollie Deese

Print | Front Page | Email this story

Rush Bicycle Messengers delivers 10,000 copies of Native magazine to 100 locations around Nashville.  Bypassing trucks or cars as delivery vehicles helps the magazine offset its carbon footprint.

-- Submitted / Ryan Green

Dave Thienel, 27, had only been operating Rush Bicycle Messengers for a few months when he inquired about advertising in the equally new Native magazine.

As Nashville’s only all-bicycle courier service, Thienel knew he offered a green alternative to local businesses looking for that as an option. The staff at Native was intrigued and had a better idea.

Why not trade services?

“It told them that I could do it,” says Thienel, a Dickson County native.

Of course, then he had to figure out how to transport 10,000 magazines to 100 locations in just a day or two.

“Their second issue is when we started delivering for them, and it’s pretty incredible because it is such a massive amount of locations in such a short period of time.”

Rush cyclists use a combination of city streets and bikeways from Percy Priest Dam to Warner Parks to deliver magazines and other parcels.

-- Submitted / Ryan Green

The drop-off locations are all within a five-mile radius, and Thienel and his staff of part-time bikers have trailers that attach to the back of the bikes for the job. It takes three cyclists with trailers to accomplish the delivery in one day. To date, they have delivered more than 60,000 pounds of the magazine, traveling more than 1,000 miles to do so.

Delivery reinforces magazine’s message

Due to the amount of paper used to print a magazine, Native was looking for green alternatives to offset their carbon footprint.

By using bicycles to deliver the magazine, Rush estimates they have prevented an estimated 444,350 grams of CO2 emissions.

“As a publication, we are very conscious of the fact that we are printing on paper, a resource that is coming from trees,” says Dave Pittman, Native’s brand advisor.

“When you do decide to print a magazine you sort of start with a little bit of a deficit in the environmental department. We felt it was important to actively work to correct that.”

But omitting a print product in favor of online only was definitely not an option. As big as their commitment is to keeping their carbon footprint low, their goal to keep their content level high.

Rush Bicycle Messengers

musiccityrush.com/

615 707-9695

“We value the permanence of magazines and feel like the content we are printing is a timeless document of what is happening in Nashville right now,” Pittman says. “We feel paper really brings something to that.”

In addition to bike delivery, Native also works with Trees For The Future to plant 100 trees for every ton of paper it uses.

Greenways, bike lanes help

It helps Thienel’s business model that drivers’ perceptions about cyclists are changing and Nashville is committed to increasing greenways and bike trails. Metro figures show trail development in Nashville progresses at a rate of five miles a year on average, depending on funding and acquisition.

Off-street trails provided on greenways combined with Nashville’s increasing on-street bicycle network and bike share facilities are making Nashville a bike-friendly city.

For example, The Music City Bikeway utilizes greenway trails and bike lanes from Percy Priest Dam on the east side of Nashville, through downtown to the Warner Parks on the west.

“Drivers are starting to understand a little more that you are supposed to be on the road, and having the bike lanes definitely gives us much better options on how to get to certain places,” Thienel says.

“If we have to go to Metro Center, we can take a greenway all the way there and not have to worry about cars at all. So the growth of the cycling infrastructure has been great for us.”

Small business support

In the past year, Rush has picked up more diverse clients in addition to the typical lawyer and Realtor. Bongo Java uses them to shuttle beans. Customers of Dave’s Deli or Rae’s Gourmet Sandwich Shoppe can get their lunchtime fix via bike.

“We really like to focus on working with other local businesses,” Thienel says. “That is one thing that seems to make Nashville stand out a little bit from some other cities as well as our commitment to sustainability.

“Sometimes as a business owner you want some advice and working closely with other people, they kind of help out. It is such a tight-knit community and it is pretty great. I love that I am able to do this in this city.”

And the next time you see one of the bikes with trailers out, go ahead and ask questions.

You might be holding up a delivery but he doesn’t mind.

“It shows people what you can do with a bike and what a great tool it is,” he says.

“If we can deliver 10,000 magazines in a day, then surely someone else can take a [bike] trip to the grocery store for staples.”

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