High Points: WHEEE-cycle!
So, I am the one. I am the guy who doesn’t have a bike. I know, in this valley it borders on sacrilegious to not own a bike of one’s own and I am not proud of it. But at least I have given my mea culpa in print. In public. I should get some kudos for that.
Having said that, I still do love to two-wheel. To feel the wind in my hair, to glide on city streets, to get from point A to point B with the simple turn of a pedal — all of those things excite. Fortunately for me, I live in a town where I need just put a card in a machine and I can get a bike, a WE-cycle, for free. For 30 minutes I can feel like I own not just the road, but the bike that’s under my butt. What a country.
The Aspen WE-cycle debuted here in the Aspen summer in 2013 as the first bikeshare in North America outside of a metro area. Now, going on a decade later, it is a valuable gem of a nonprofit, not just for Aspen but for Basalt, El Jebel, Willits and Snowmass Village. And word this week is that the program will be expanding next year to Carbondale. A perfect place for the WE-cycle zeitgeist.
WE-cycle is not designed to be a “rental-bike,” but rather is a system that allows riders the opportunity to ride a bike, free of charge in those communities, for up to 30 minutes and take it from one of 53 docking stations to another. It is public transportation in its purest form.
How can it be free? Well, it says on the website that the “day-to-day operations and fare-free service is funded by the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, local jurisdictions, and sponsors. Bikeshare equipment is funded by Founding Partners, private donors, local jurisdictions, and the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority. WE-cycle is a PBSC Urban Solutions based system.” That last one, the PBSC Urban Solutions, is the Montreal, Canada-based supplier of bike-sharing equipment around the world and it was recently announced that it will be acquired by Lyft, the ride-sharing company.
In any event, all one has to do to ride the slick bikes (there are now 52 E-bikes in the nearly 300 bike fleet) is to download the Transit App on your phone or sign up at We-cycle.org. Once you are signed up, they will take credit card info, you can use your phone to get access codes or get a key card that you simply enter into the docking station adjacent to an available bike, and take it for a ride. When you get to your destination docking station you rack the bike, making sure that the little light goes on when you hear the click.
That part is important because if you don’t get the green light, after 30 minutes WE-cycle will start charging your card 50 cents per minute for pedal bikes and, get this, $5 per minute for e-bikes. I have never had that problem. Need more time? Just get a new bike for the next 30 minutes.
The advantages of such a system are obvious, especially in our valley towns. WE-cycle keeps cars off the road, reducing pollution and parking needs, they provide ease of transportation throughout the valley and they help keep people in shape by giving them a bit of exercise.
But more importantly, at least for me, the guy who doesn’t have a bike, WE-cycle gives me a dose of fun for free. I can ride like the wind … even for just 30 minutes.
And that is cycling satisfaction.