Local Veterans Keep The Wheels Turning For ValleyBike Share
A veteran-owned and staffed business operates and maintains a regional bicycle-sharing program in western Massachusetts.
After 35 years of experience in the military, including four deployments overseas, Jim Duffney retired as a First Sergeant in the U.S. Air Force and decided to put what he had learned about transportation logistics to use.
" I was looking for a passion and to try to help our brothers and sisters who served," explained Duffney.
In 2015, he founded Corps Logistics, a company that employs veterans to operate vehicle-sharing services.
The company launched its first bicycle-sharing program in Baltimore in 2016. It now operates seven bike sharing systems around the country including ValleyBike, which debuted last June in Northampton, Amherst, Holyoke, South Hadley, Springfield, and on the UMass Amherst campus.
" The cities were easy to work with, very supportive and we've hired a bunch of veterans here," said Duffney when ValleyBike launched last June.
For ValleyBike, Corps Logistics was hired to build and maintain 50 rental stations and deploy 500 electric pedal-assist bicycles. It is the largest bike-share system of its kind in North America. Still, Duffney insists that operating it is no big deal.
" The great thing is bike share is a vehicle to help people," said Duffney. "ValleyBike is helping so many veterans by giving them jobs and providng an opportunity for people to transport themselves in a cool way."
A dozen people work out of a dispatch center in Northampton to make sure bikes are available for rent at all 50 stations 24/7.
Peter Rooney of Worthington, a former sergeant in the U.S. Army, was hired at Corps Logistics about a month before the launch of ValleyBike after a chance meeting with Duffney in a local bar.
" After he explained the program to me, I was all in," said Rooney. "I liked the sustainability factor and that it was a veteran-owned business. It's impressive."
After losing both his legs in a bomb explosion in Iraq in 2007, Rooney had not worked. He said the job at Corps Logistics means a lot to him.
"I have ties to the community now and ties to environmental goals," said Rooney.
In addition to employing local veterans to operate and maintain the bicycle-sharing infrastructure for the communities it serves around the country, Corps Logistics has a central call center in Baltimore.