WE-cycle to launch eighth season next week in Roaring Fork Valley; stations added in Snowmass
WE-cycle is launching its bike-sharing program Monday throughout the valley, with a new presence in Snowmass Village the following week.
Two docking stations are being installed in Snowmass, with one located near the Club Commons complex and the other at Town Park beginning June 15. Mirte Mallory, the executive director of WE-cycle, said the locations are strategically placed so the 15 available bikes can be used for commuting to Roaring Fork Transportation Authority bus stations.
“We’ll learn a lot from this small hub and spoke system, the first and last mile of commuting on a bike,” she said.
Typically WE-cycle launches in early May but because of COVID-19 public health orders, Mallory has been working with the organization’s partners and Pitkin County to ensure the safety of riders with certain protocols.
Now in its eighth year, WE-cycle’s summer launch will look a bit different in a COVID-19 world, with the emphasis being on users taking responsibility for sanitizing their hands, cleaning surfaces that are touched prior to and after riding, wearing facial coverings and staying 6 feet apart from other people.
“We will regularly be cleaning the high-touch areas,” Mallory said, adding that it’s a joint effort and joint responsibility to have users stay safe. “It’s the same responsibility you take at the grocery store or pumping gas.
“We as an organization, our goal is the collective health of our community.”
The 234 bikes in the WE-cycle fleet will be available throughout Aspen, Snowmass Village, Basalt, the Willits area and El Jebel.
Some stations have been adjusted at various locations to increase capacity or to address changing traffic patterns amid COVID-19 restrictions.
For instance, there will be no docking stations at the Aspen Recreation Center, Marolt seasonal housing or the roundabout in Aspen. But more bikes will be available at the docking station at Aspen Valley Hospital.
Bikes will be added to certain locations in the El Jebel area to meet demand, Mallory said.
This is the third year that WE-cycle is offered for free to the community.
Riders can take a bike from any of the 46 stations located in Aspen or Basalt for 30 minutes for free. Every additional minute is 50 cents.
Riding at no charge is made possible by subsidies provided by the city of Aspen, the Elected Officials Transportation Committee, the town of Basalt, Eagle County and RFTA.
The total subsidy for this year is $482,000 and the WE-cycle operating budget is $660,000, according to Mallory. The sponsor that will appear on bikes this year is Aspen Valley Hospital.
People can sign up or renew their membership via WE-cycle’s website, and either access the bikes through the Transit app, or for a “no touch point” option, a key card can mailed or picked up at a drop box at the Aspen or Basalt offices.
Mallory said there is pent-up demand for bike sharing starting later than usual.
“We are grateful to see how many people are interested in bike share coming back,” she said, adding that if people are new to the program this year is the time since biking is a good way to social distance travel. “If you’ve seen them for years, this is your opportunity.”
Mallory noted that since the world went under and came out of quarantine due to the spread of the novel coronavirus, alternative transit programs have exploded.
“We are seeing bike ridership surging around the world as we reemerge from isolation,” she said, noting that more than 200 cities globally have partially or fully closed streets to make way for bikes and pedestrian corridors and pathways. “To see that is really encouraging and I hope we as a community follow that global trend.”
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State department of transportation crews are well on their way to clearing Highway 82 to Independence Pass, which should open on schedule May 27 at noon.