Conscious commute

Standing Stone Restaurant and Brewery this week provided free bicycles for 17 of its workers in an effort to reduce carbon emissions created by driving to and from work.

The mood was festive at Ashland Bicycle Works in the Ashland Shopping Center on Wednesday morning as employees posed for photographs beside the brand-new, blue 21-speed Kona bikes, which were picked up by the Standing Stone team, who then formed a small bike parade through the streets of town on their way back to the restaurant.

The bicycles have been emblazoned with the words Standing Stone Commuter in yellow lettering. The logo was done by the restaurant's resident design guru Ashley Nunes, who worked closely with Rogue Design to do all the graphics for the bikes.

"This was really a collaborative effort," said Alex Amarotico, the owner of the restaurant and former City Councilor.

"We found out about a state tax credit available, so we started asking the employees if this would be something they would be interested in. Everybody was super stoked, so there was no turning back from there."

The program promotes the health of the environment as well as "improves the health of the workforce, so it's really a win-win," Amarotico said.

Employees of Standing Stone voiced their approval of the plan to help reduce their carbon footprint while getting in shape.

"We're really excited about the whole thing. It gives me the opportunity to ride to work instead of drive and really represent for Standing Stone. I want to say thanks to Alex and Danielle," said Robert Koning, a member of the service staff.

City Councilor David Chapman commended Standing Stone's efforts and hopes other businesses will soon follow its example.

"It's wonderful that they did this. It makes sense for them and the city," Chapman said.

In addition to the bicycles, a new bike rack has been approved by the city and will be put in place outside the restaurant. It will have enough room for 14 bikes and will take up one parking space, something Chapman would like to see more of downtown.

"I'm hoping we can put more bike racks on corners — areas where people aren't supposed to park anyway — to make the area more bicycle friendly," he said.

Roughly a third of Standing Stone's workforce received bicycles with the program's induction, and that could increase during the next enrollment, which takes place in January.

Employees are required to make a $150 deposit on the bikes, which they get back after fulfilling their 45 round-trip commitment to Standing Stone as per the bike giveaway agreement.

Additionally, employees retain ownership of the bikes even after leaving employment with the restaurant.

"Maybe I should get a job here," said local musician and SOU student Sean McDermott only half jokingly upon hearing about the program.

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