Bike-sharing system to get demonstration in Aspen |

Bike-sharing system to get demonstration in Aspen

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Courtesy Nice Ride, MinneapolisBicycles in Minneapolis' bike-share program, Nice Ride, are ready to go.

ASPEN – Aspen will get a glimpse Thursday of a community bike-sharing system that organizers would like to launch in town next year.

A free demonstration from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the mall, at the corner of Galena and Cooper (across from Paradise Bakery), will introduce both the bicycles and the technology that would allow members to grab a bike and zip around town on short trips. Seven bikes will be available.

Aspen would be the first city of its size to implement this sort of system, according to Mirte Mallory, co-founder of WE-cycle, Aspen, which is proposing the system.

WE-cycle and Bixi, Public Bike Systems will offer the demonstration. Bixi has been involved in large-scale bike-sharing systems in places like Montreal, Melbourne, Minneapolis, London and, soon, Washington, D.C., according to Mallory.

“Part of what we’re trying to do on Thursday is dispel the idea that community bicycle sharing is just haphazardly placed bikes out in the community,” she said.

While local businesses and governments offer bike sharing – providing bicycles to employees for short trips around town, WE-cycle envisions a system that offers multiple bicycles that anyone could use. That includes visitors who don’t have access to a bike and commuters who drive or ride a bus to town, but would then find it convenient to pedal across town for short trips – from the core to The Aspen Institute campus, for example, Mallory explained.

The bike sharing would operate for six months a year, spanning the spring, summer and fall.

Organizers have already discussed the concept with local bike shops that rent bikes, Mallory said, and will go before the City Council on Aug. 16 to discuss the proposal.

“This is not a solution to go to the Woody Creek Tavern,” Mallory said. “This is point-to-point trips within the downtown core. The goal is to use the bikes for very short periods of time.”

The system’s users could become members for a year, six months, a month, a week or even a day, she said. Membership would come with fee; bike use would be free for the first 30 minutes; then the user would pay, based on the amount of time the bike is out of a dock. The bicycle could be returned to its starting point or left at another kiosk in the system, and a manager would make sure bikes are shuffled so they’re available at every kiosk, or docking station.

A website would give users the ability to check the availability of bikes at a particular spot.

Startup costs for 50 to 75 bicycles and the docking system are estimated at $250,000 to $350,000, according to Mallory. Organizers will be raising funds and seeking sponsorships for what will be a nonprofit system, but the city won’t be asked to fund the system, she said.

Aspen, along with other, much larger cities, already has a car-sharing program that allows members to use cars parked at designated spots.