Aspen’s $20K bike locker experiment has yet to gain traction
The city of Aspen’s $20,000 investment in bike lockers designed to provide an alternative to driving into town has not yielded much of a return.
Since last July when the city put 20 lockers at the Buttermilk parking lot, only one has been rented for the season at a rate of $40.
“To be totally honest, we could do a better job marketing it,” said Mitzi Rapkin, the city’s community relations director.
The city did some social media around the lockers, but the concept of taking the bus and riding a bike the final 2 miles into town hasn’t gained traction.
The city has since spread the lockers around in hopes of appealing to different users — there are six at Buttermilk and four at Paepcke Park for the public to rent.
The city’s parks employees are using six of them at their offices by the roundabout in an effort to make fewer trips into town.
Another four have been placed at Stein Park near Woody Creek and on the banks of the Roaring Fork River that are being used by rafting companies.
The lockers were first conceived as an experiment when the city began talking about different mobility options and providing incentives to get more commuters out of their cars, according to Rapkin.
“The long-term investment was aimed at providing services that would help offset some traffic congestion and C02 emissions,” she wrote in an email.
Rapkin noted that with the success at Stein Park, the city will look at other locations that might be more useful for commuters.
The lockers are meant to complement the city’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, which in part aims to expand bicycling opportunities in Aspen, and gel with the city’s plans to expand alternative transit options.
Aspen City Council will discuss today evening during a work session the city’s short-range transit plan and how to keep traffic levels at or below 1993 levels.
Elected officials will get an update of the transit plan, which was adopted by the previous council in 2018.
The plan evaluates the efficiency and quality of Aspen’s transportation programs and services.
It also has a list and timeline of approved projects either underway or planned that council is expected to give direction on.
They include expanded summer bus service, offering more dog-friendly transit services and researching trip reduction ordinances that promote ride sharing and alternative transit options.
The bike lockers go hand in hand with that type of incentive, which is why Rapkin said they need to be advertised and utilized more.
“Would they be more useful at Tiehack or the ARC so commuters could leave their mountain bikes or road bikes in town all week, take the bus, and then have their bike ready to ride after or before work?” she asked. “We haven’t really gotten to market or explore these avenues yet but are talking about that now.”
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Kevin Warner started his career with the U.S. Forest Service as a wilderness ranger in 2001. Now he’s taking over the key position as Aspen-Sopris District Ranger.