Local Spotlight: Mirte Mallory talks about new WE-Cycle stations in Snowmass
WE-CYCLE IN SNOWMASS
If you are interested in learning more about how to utilize the WE-Cycle bike share program in Snowmass Village, visit we-cycle.org. Locals and visitors can sign up for the program through the website or through the “Transit” app.
For this month’s Local Spotlight, the Snowmass Sun talked with Mirte Mallory, co-founder and executive director of WE-Cycle, about the village’s first two community-supported bike share stations that launched at the Club Commons workforce housing complex and Town Park bus stop last week.
According to Mallory, the introduction of We Cycle into the Snowmass transit system has been a collaborative effort between the nonprofit and Snowmass Village officials and is a sustainability milestone for the town.
“We’re very excited to have this new connected system between Club Commons and Town Park,” Mallory said. “We’ve been really encouraged by the feedback so far. … It’s an interesting summer this initiative so we’re going to be very creative and collaborative and are extremely grateful for the support of our founding partners.”
WE-Cycle is a nonprofit that aims to transform the Roaring Fork Valley into a place that prioritizes carbon free or low carbon transportation, like community bike share and the local public bus systems, creating a less traffic congested, more healthy and vibrant living environment for locals and visitors, according to its website.
In 2013, the nonprofit kicked off its bike share program in Aspen — the first in North America outside of an urban area — and has worked to expand access and connection to greener transportation options ever since, Mallory said.
Locals and visitors can sign up for the program through WE-Cycle’s website or the “Transit” app, check out a bike from a station near them, use it to help get to their final destination with the first 30 minutes of their ride provided for free, and check the bike back into any WE-Cycle station when finished.
“The goal of the program is to provide seamless connectivity for people within our community yet to different places by using multiple modes of travel,” Mallory explained. “Ideally, that means using bikes for the short trips and connecting to buses for longer distances.”
In Snowmass Village specifically, Mallory said the town has always been on WE-Cycle’s master plan for expansion and a supporter of the community bike share program.
Now, after much discussion on where to kick off a local program, Mallory said the nonprofit is excited to offer a more accelerated, reliable connector between the Club Commons, a roughly 300-resident housing complex for Aspen Skiing Co. employees, and the Town Park Village Shuttle and Roaring Fork Transportation Authority Bus Stop.
“Of the approximately 300 residents at Club Commons, 40% have vehicles and as a result that Town Park/Rodeo Lot bus stop is one of the top 20 bus stops in the valley. It’s a highly utilized bus stop,” Mallory explained.
“So, through bike share we’re working with the town of Snowmass to encourage and affirm the behavior of riding the bus to and from destinations.”
According to Town Manager Clint Kinney and Mayor Markey Butler, the greatest challenge and delay in bringing WE-Cycle stations to Snowmass stems from the fact that the village is not flat and the nonprofit’s bike share bicycles are not e-bikes.
Keeping these inhibitors in mind, town officials have had countless discussions with WE-Cycle and Town Council has officially allocated $40,000 total toward getting these first two stations up and running, according to town documents. RFTA, Skico and Aspen Valley Hospital also are founding supporters of the Snowmass stations.
“When I first saw the stations being put in I thought, ‘It’s about time,’” Butler said, laughing. “It took a long time to solidify. We’ve talked and talked and talked so it’s good to see the stations finally in place.”
Over the past week, Mallory said WE-Cycle has started to see people utilize the new Snowmass stations, but that it takes time for people to change their habits and the nonprofit is working with the town to continue to push the word out and encourage people to take advantage of the new bike share option.
She also noted that overall WE-Cycle has seen a decline in its ridership amid the pandemic, aligning with RFTA’s ridership numbers as the two operate in tandem. However, she feels that because WE-Cycle offers a more socially distanced way to commute, more people will utilize the bike share as in-person activity picks up in the upper valley.
Moving forward, Mallory hopes to continue to work with town officials to identify more potential WE-Cycle locations, using the first two stations as a baseline for where stations elsewhere in the village could best serve local commuters.
“I cannot applaud enough the leadership of the town of Snowmass Village,” Mallory said. “It was a community collaboration that brought this to fruition and that’s what we are by nature, community-supported bike share.”
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A proposed workforce housing project at the Snowmass Water and Sanitation District could turn a decommissioned facility into several apartments for employee use.