When city inspector Allen LaFan decided to buy a bike in March hoping to lose pounds and cut gas costs, he wasn’t looking much further than his wallet and his midsection. He never guessed he’d pioneer the first inspector bike program in the state and possibly the country, inspiring city inspectors nationwide to consider trading four wheels for two.
LaFan intended the bike for his commute, but he suspected it could also help him do his job. Code violations -€ like broken windows and unlicensed vehicles -€ would be much easier to spot from atop a two-wheeler than out the window of a car, he reasoned.
His bosses agreed. The city footed the bill for LaFan’s bike, and Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner wondered whether other city employees could be convinced to follow LaFan’s lead.
“He was up on our floor one day and I grabbed him and brought him into the office and picked his brain a little bit,” Weisner said.
Sensing that other cities might be interested as well, LaFan showed up at a July meeting of inspectors from across Illinois, handed out Lance Armstrong T-shirts and explained the merits of his bike. The organization, the Illinois Association of Code Enforcement, was so impressed that it’s trying to cobble together funds to send LaFan -€ and his bike presentation -€ to a national inspectors’ conference in Florida in October, said Third Vice President Bill Donovan.
“I think there are many in the southern area of the country that would embrace this,” Donovan said, explaining that inspectors in warmer cities could utilize bikes year-round.