Make Aspen more bicycle friendly
December 13, 2011
I lived in downtown Aspen until 2007 and rode my bike everywhere, day or night, summer or winter.
Moving midvalley, I looked for places to leave my townie so that I could drive or bus into town and then use my bike on Aspen errands and jobs. Under the breezeway at the Red Brick was the ultimate spot, but when half of the bike racks were removed, the staff at the Red Brick told me they needed more room for strollers. Even when I rode and moved the bike three to four times a week, it was tagged at the Red Brick with notices that it needed to be removed. In the end, I gave up on having a bike in town.
While We-Cycle might appear to be just the thing, the numbers just don’t work, and I can’t imagine that the program is financially sound, given the assumptions. Poll a bike shop or two. Use a spreadsheet or the back of an envelope. The goals are laudable, and it’s great to take advantage of federal funds. But when I work the numbers, I’m convinced the program will never break even.
Around here, suitable town bikes are nearly free! My current townie bike (with dead front shock and XT shifters) cost me a 12-pack! Isn’t that about $6,488 less expensive per bike than the startup costs for We-Cycle?
I suggest we dedicate a couple of parking spots in the Rio Grande garage to bike parking and charge users a monthly fee to lock up a bike there. We can grow the service in response to demand. Fewer cars in town is a laudable goal, but there are many ways to achieve it.
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Mike Tullar and others have suggested acquiring cheap bikes and painting them the same color for around-town rides. This solution would at least avoid the boondoggle of We-Cycle. But someone would still have to maintain those bikes. We should make it easy for those so inclined to have their own bikes in town. Why not make more bikes in town easy and scalable rather than hard, expensive and “failable”?
If the city or county sets aside covered bike parking in town, I’ll be the first to pay for a spot.