The Aspen City Council on Tuesday pledged to pay half the cost of a new $35,000 WE-cycle bike-share station near City Hall.
During Tuesday’s work session, WE-cycle founder Mirte Mallory presented a number of statistics from the program’s first year in Aspen. For 2013, the city of Aspen and Pitkin County chipped in $6,000 and $24,666, respectively. After an initial investment of $500,000, WE-cycle incurred $142,000 in operating costs while earning $146,000 in revenue and logging 10,053 rides. Mallory said 91 percent of rides lasted less than 30 minutes, meaning the bikes are being used for transit rather than recreational purposes, adding that transit is the desired function of WE-cycle.
Mallory initially asked the city for the full $35,000, but Councilman Adam Frisch suggested that there could be private companies willing to “go halfsies” on the cost. He mentioned CP Burger, which is in close proximity to WE-cycle’s most trafficked station, as a private company that has been pleased with the bike-share program. He said he didn’t want to put anybody on the spot, but there are few businesses in the vicinity of City Hall that might be interested: retailers in the newly renovated Gap Building and Peach’s Cafe.
Mallory said she will look for other partners and will return to the council at a later date. Frisch suggested contacting the Aspen Fire Department about using its large sidewalk for the new station.
Of the 13 stations around town, one that disappointed in ridership was the Rio Grande parking-garage location. To avoid incurring any cost for the new station, city manager Steve Barwick suggested moving the Rio Grande station. Councilwoman Ann Mullins was against this idea, saying it’s important not only to keep the Rio Grande station but to emphasize it so that more foot traffic will enter the garage. This summer, the city also plans to increase garage traffic by having pedicabs deliver patrons to Aspen’s downtown.
“We really need to explore some ways to utilize WE-cycle at the garage before we move it to someplace else in town,” Mullins said.
The council was asked if it had any preference on the WE-cycle-occupied parking spaces on Cooper and Hopkins avenues. After Transportation Programs Manager Lynn Rumbaugh told the council that there have been no major complaints against having stations occupy the parking spaces, the council gave its support for the stations to remain.
In the past, Mallory has made the argument that the 100 WE-cycle bikes help free up parking spaces in the community. Agreeing with this argument, Mayor Steve Skadron suggested placing signs at the two stations that would let the public know exactly how many spaces are freed up by WE-cycle riders.