We-cycle bike-share program continued to grow in 2014

Michael McLaughlin
The Aspen Times
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, left, and Aspen Mayor Steve Skadron enjoy a ride on We-cycle bikes in Aspen in August 2014. Both were supporting Colorado Day 2014 while promoting bike sharing in Colorado.
MIchael McLaughlin/The Aspen Times |

The We-cycle program had its last day of service for 2014 on Saturday, wrapping up another year of growth and innovation with the bike-sharing program.

“It’s exciting to set standards with this program,” said Mirte Mallory, We-cycle’s executive director. “We’re the only rural town and the only mountain resort town in North America with a bike-sharing program. We’ve had a lot of other communities watching us and wondering if a bike-sharing program can succeed in a small town. We get calls regularly from other small communities that want to know how our program is working because they want a similar program, as well. Aspen continues to be a leader and pioneer in rural transportation solutions by applying bike sharing here.”

The We-cycle program features a fully automated bike system that includes 100 bikes and 14 stations throughout the Aspen area available 24 hours a day. We-cycle offers an array of different passes, and all include unlimited 30-minute rides. The program has never been advertised as a bike-rental business; instead, the program is highlighted as a complement to Aspen’s transportation options.

In 2014, the program had more than 17,600 rides, a 76 percent increase in use from 2013. There were 465 season-pass holders this year, and the number of kiosks increased from 13 to 14.

“Those are some extraordinary numbers,” Mallory said. “We had some riders that logged more than 300 rides this year.”

Matt Reed, 31, has lived in Aspen for four years and works for the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies as a naturalist guide. He began participating in the program this summer.

“It’s been amazing,” Reed said. “To be able to just show up in town randomly and have a bike waiting for me at Paepcke Park was great. Between going to work every day and biking back to where I lived all summer at Centennial, I clocked probably close to 200 rides. It’s so convenient. It gives you so many options. It also helps foster a real sense of community in Aspen. I’ve gotten to know people from all walks of life that also use the program. At the end-of-the-year We-cycle party they had recently, I knew about 90 percent of the people there. Using the We-cycle program almost every day also got me right in shape. I think I dropped 10 pounds this summer.”

In 2014, We-cycle also developed a simplified, day-pass rider experience that streamlines access to the bikes.

At the Aspen Ideas Festival this year, all the participants were given the new day passes, which allowed the visitors to use the program like locals do.

“It was a such a great example of the advantages of having the new day pass,” Mallory said. “It was convenient, flexible and was something that was spontaneous. It gave visitors a chance to know our town like a local as compared to being on shuttles that use the same route. In the 10 days of the festival, the visitors that used the day passes rode a total of 3,400 miles, or the equivalent of riding to Manhattan and back. We also heard from people that ended up joining bike-sharing programs in their hometowns after using the program here.”

For 2015, Mallory said she expects to be back up and running by mid-May, as long as the weather cooperates. She’s hoping We-cycle adds a few more stations throughout the Aspen area and broadens the service area, as she’s heard requests for kiosks in Burlingame, near Eighth Street, by the Red Brick Center for the Arts, the Aspen Business Center and at the Aspen Recreation Center.

She’s also hoping to encourage more businesses to provide passes to employees so the bike sharing can be used as a complement to the local bus system.

“It’s been an amazing year for the program,” Mallory said. “We’re extremely grateful to our sponsors and partners with the program. Our goal really is to provide a reliable, efficient, spontaneous and fun transportation system.”