WE-Cycle’s 10,000 rides in Aspen mostly from locals

Karl Herchenroeder
The Aspen Times

Aspen’s WE-Cycle bike-sharing program saw more than 10,000 rides from June through November, with 51 percent of those trips coming from local season-pass holders.

The 100-bike, 13-station WE-Cycle system was installed in June for $500,000 with the help of 10 founding partners. The city of Aspen and Pitkin County both signed on, chipping in $6,000 and $24,666, respectively. After the initial investment, WE-Cycle in Aspen incurred $142,000 in operating costs while earning $146,000 in revenue for 2013. The 2014 season of WE-Cycle kicks off in May.

After 23,804 miles pedaled, eight flat tires and zero injuries, all 100 bikes were accounted for in November. Docking stations at CP Burger and Restaurant Row saw the most use, while the Hunter Creek station was added in August due to popular demand. The most requested stations not installed were Eighth Street, Truscott and the Red Brick Building.

“What we’re showing here is that this program has broad appeal and had fantastic usage by our locals,” director Mirte Mallory said.

According to her numbers, 91 percent of the rides took less than 30 minutes, which shows that the program was used for its primary purpose of transit rather than recreational use. By comparison, 62 percent of Boulder’s B-Cycle rides average less than 30 minutes.

The other 49 percent of ridership was made up of 24-hour, three-day and seven-day passes ($7, $15 and $25, respectively). Season passes are $55.

Organizers aim to secure $200,000 in sponsorship before May. As public entities, Mallory said she hopes Aspen and Pitkin County will see the success of the program and support it in the future. The program’s title sponsor, Aspen-Snowmass Sotheby’s, she said, has been critical to its success.

In Denver, the B-Cycle program saw a 97 percent increase in ridership from year one to year two. Mallory is hoping for similar success in Aspen, which she says has a very mature biking community. Last year, Aspen’s 285 season-pass holders were 55 percent male and 45 percent female, with an average age of 37.

With an estimated 15,949 pounds of carbon emissions offset, Mallory said the program is in line with Aspen’s community values.

“Aspen has a different feel when it’s congested with cars,” she said. “Bikes give you that freedom and independence and feeling that you’re in a mountain town and you’re having a distinctly different experience than you do in another resort community.”

Mallory has received requests to install WE-Cycle downvalley, but in order to do that, she said, the program will need more collaborative partners.