We-cycle bike-share program ready to ride into Basalt
A local bike-sharing program is prepared to take a quantum leap beyond Aspen over the next two years, and it’s unveiling a program that will create an even closer bond to the Roaring Fork Valley’s bus system.
WE-cycle will launch in Basalt and El Jebel in May with an estimated 80 bicycles to rent and 23 stations and satellite stations. Residents of the area will be given the opportunity to vote online for the locations of stations, according to Mirte Mallory, co-founder and director of WE-cycle.
“We want people to tell us where they want their stations,” she said. Voting starts today at http://www.we-cycle.org and ends April 1st.
The nonprofit organization also is gearing up for expansion into Glenwood Springs in April 2017, with the goal of providing an alternative to internal travel there while the Grand Avenue bridge is out of commission for 95 days that summer and fall.
As part of its goal to team with the bus system to provide incentives to people to leave personal vehicles at home, the season passes for WE-cycle and the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority will be coordinated this year.
“We worked with RFTA to create seamless integration between bike and bus,” Mallory said.
Expanding beyond Aspen
WE-cycle launched in Aspen in 2013 and racked up 10,000 rides. That grew to 17,700 the following year and 21,000 in 2015.
Riders can buy a $50 season pass that allows unlimited rides of 30 minutes or less from May through October. A $9 day pass provides an unlimited number of rides of 30 minutes or less for that day. An overtime fee is charged when a bicycle is checked out of a docking station and isn’t checked back in at a station within 30 minutes.
The three-speed bikes keep riders upright, and they are designed for slower travel.
“Our bikes are not to be used for long periods of time,” Mallory said.
The concept is to strategically place stations so people have incentive to hop on a bike for an errand or trip and leave their personal vehicles parked.
In Basalt and El Jebel, Mallory envisions placing satellite stations in neighborhoods so residents will take them to the nearest bus station. It is guaranteed that bike-docking stations will be placed at the Basalt downvalley bus-rapid-transit station and the Willits and El Jebel bus stations.
She hopes that people will hop on a bike in the morning, ride to a station, park the bike and ride one back in the evening.
Residents of the El Jebel and Willits areas also could hop on a bike for a quick shopping trip at City Market or Whole Foods.
Ideal for unplanned trips
The average ride time in Aspen is eight minutes, Mallory said. A survey showed that 92 percent of Aspen passholders own a bicycle.
“What we find is WE-cycle is ideal for those unplanned trips,” she said.
Establishing satellite stations in the neighborhoods is key to success in Basalt and El Jebel.
“People are inclined to go about 1,000 feet to get a bike,” Mallory said.
There won’t be any bike-docking stations in the Southside neighborhood of Basalt in the first phase. WE-cycle doesn’t want to provide an incentive to ride a bike until a pedestrian underpass is completed at South Side Avenue.
It will cost $380,000 in capital costs to get rolling in Basalt and El Jebel, with operating expenses estimated at $160,000 annually. The town of Basalt and RFTA were early financial partners that helped establish the service.
Mallory sees the midvalley service as groundbreaking among 60 bike-share programs in the U.S.
“This is going to be the most rural, lowest-density bike-share community,” she said.
In addition to integrating the season-pass system with RFTA, WE-cycle teamed with a company called Transit App for a smartphone application. The app plans a trip when you punch in your location and destination. The app provides information on the nearest bike-docking station, the necessary bus route and even bus schedules.
WE-cycle is also among the partners launching Transit Social, which will keep subscribers informed with notifications about transit-related news — late buses, full park-and-rides and traffic snarls.
For more on WE-cycle, go to http://www.we-cycle.org.
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