Wheels in motion for Aspen bike-sharing program
Ryan Summerlin September 30, 2010
ASPEN – WE-Cycle, a local start-up business aiming to create communal kiosks for bicycles in Aspen, is moving closer to its goal.
During a second round of talks at a work session Tuesday with the Aspen City Council, WE-Cycle officials received encouragement for the effort, which mirrors several other bicycle-sharing programs across the world.
Calling it a request for a “sponsorship,” Philip Jeffreys, who is pushing the effort along his wife, WE-Cycle creator Mirte Mallory, said they would pay the city a $3,000 fee on two of the six proposed kiosks that would eliminate parking spaces.
However, City Council members said it would not require fees for sidewalk space used by the kiosks.
During the meeting, the City Council gave Jeffreys and Mallory approval to go into the application process to become an official business.
Councilman Steve Skadron said the funding for the business would need to be solid.
“I have to be convinced … that the premise of your business model will work,” Skadron said. He expressed concern about Aspen’s size being a problem, as most other cities that have bike-sharing programs are much bigger.
Jeffreys said the program was based on a strong model, citing discussion with potential sponsors.
“They feel like it would be an ideal setup,” Jeffreys said.
But he stressed that, before it started finalizing advertising sponsorships, it needed to strike an accord with the city.
“WE-Cycle can’t happen unless we agree on the fundamentals,” he said.
Council members also said the program should not take business away from local bicycle shops that rent their products.
Jeffreys said the shortest amount of time local bike vendors allow patrons to rent is four hours, a length of time WE-Cycle would charge a lot more for.
If they gain their business license, they will be able to keep it for a year and then reapply.
Mallory and Jeffreys proposed to install six kiosks around town, with locations at Clark’s Market, Galena Plaza, near City Hall, the Wheeler Opera House, City Market and the Rubey Park Transit Station. They would be home to between 75 and 100 bikes. The kiosks would be removed in the winter.
Patrons would be able buy annual memberships, or pay by the individual ride.
A similar operation in Denver, B-cycle, has been in place since 1992.
That seemingly harmless program was sharply criticized in August by Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes in The Denver Post as being part of a widespread U.N. conspiracy to take over personal freedoms in the United States.
Maes was referring to Denver’s membership in the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), a group dedicated to sustainable living projects in communities worldwide, the Post reported.
The Aspen City Council accepted an award from ICLEI on Monday.