ASPEN - WE-cycle, a bike-sharing program that organizers originally hoped to launch in Aspen in the spring of 2011, will make its debut in May 2013.
The system will feature 100 bikes at 10 stations throughout town, available to ride from May through October, the nonprofit announced Thursday.
The goal is providing bikes for residents and visitors to use for quick, point-to-point trips. The system differs from traditional bike rentals in that the WE-cycle bikes are to be used for short, 30-minute trips. Daily or season passes can be purchased with a credit card at a station or online.
"Bike sharing is intended to replace short car trips with short bike trips," WE-cycle director Mirte Mallory said in a prepared statement. "A pleasant ride across town is fun and fast, while at the same time it reduces traffic congestion and parking gridlock."
Bike-sharing programs have exploded worldwide, from 60 in 2007 to nearly 450 today, including programs in Denver and Boulder, with an estimated global fleet size of about 236,000 bikes, WE-cycle noted.
The local system has chosen Public Bike System Co. to supply the stations, bikes and operating software for the program. It will be purchased through donations and public-private partnership investments; two-thirds of the necessary start-up funds have been secured, WE-cycle said.
The city of Aspen and Pitkin County have allocated federal congestion mitigation and air quality funds, including their local matches, to help purchase stations. Other founding partners include the Aspen Institute, Aspen Meadows Resort, Aspen Skiing Co., Aspen Valley Hospital, the Myers Roberts Collective, the Nick DeWolf Foundation and the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority.
WE-cycle hopes to raise the remaining money by Jan. 1 and is kicking off an adopt-a-bike campaign; go to www.we-cycle.org for more information.