Letter: WE-cycle: A community alternative to driving
Monday’s article about traffic challenges this summer in Aspen (“Aspen vehicle traffic sees steady increase,” The Aspen Times) pointed out what many of us already know: long lines of cars in to and out of town every day, inching along Highway 82 past from the Aspen Business Center past the roundabout in the morning and doing the reverse crawl along Main Street every afternoon starting as early as 2 p.m. That, plus the swelling of cars due to the massive influx of tourists this summer, has significantly stretched our traffic capacity.
The good news buried in the article is the “slight but persistent decrease” in the number of cars on the road in the past five years. Part of that is thanks to the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority and its commitment to expanding bus service in the valley. A smaller part, but growing rapidly, is WE-cycle, Aspen’s community bike share program.
With 16 stations throughout town (two new this year at Red Brick and Eighth Street), WE-cycle is providing service to the “first and last mile” of commuters, in-town residents, and visitors — taking travelers out of their cars and reducing in-town traffic. Last year, passholders shared that 36 percent of their WE-cycle replaced car trips. Here are a few stats from the 2015 season so far:
This season already, WE-cyclers have ridden 9,710 times. There are 440 people in the community who have a WE-cycle season pass, giving them easy and spontaneous access to a bike to get across town quickly. On July 1, WE-cycle had a record-breaking day of 647 rides — 6.4 rides per bike in one day.
During the 10 days of Aspen Ideas Festival, participants alone rode 4,922 miles, more than five trips from Aspen to Bentonville, AR, home to the Walton Family Foundation who generously underwrote WE-cycle passes for Ideas Festival attendees.
Now in its third season, WE-cycle is working to expand the service to other communities in the Roaring Fork Valley and is collaborating with RFTA to determine where new stations are best sited to offer optimal bus-bike transit options. We’re currently partnering with the city of Aspen in the “Drive Less” campaign, where people can pledge at Driveless.net and get a free WE-cycle pass good for 25 rides.
Bike sharing alone won’t make our traffic problems disappear, but it is a cleaner, healthier and affordable solution that can, in conjunction with other transportation solutions, go a long way to making our community more vibrant, less congested, and perhaps, friendlier.
We invite you to join the movement and zip around town on WE-cycle. Season passes and information at we-cycle.org.
Rebecca Cole, WE-cycle board member
Richard Rosenfeld, WE-cycle board chair
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