Denver has a new bike sharing program. It’s called B-Cycle, and launched April 22nd. I’ve been noticing these red and white stations all over town, and this morning visited one up close at the University of Denver Light Rail station.
I’m extremely impressed with the number of locations. When I thought of a bike sharing program I imagined a few simple racks at tourists points or busy commuter hubs. There are over 25 stations, in all parts of downtown, and also stations in Cherry Creek, Washington Park and as far south as the Tech Center. This many stations makes it usable on a regular basis rather than one time novelty.
I’m also impressed with the utility capacity of the bikes. A commuter bike is best when you can actually use it to accomplish errands and tasks, hence onboard storage is a must. All B-Cycle bikes are equipped with locks and baskets, so you can park your bike and do stuff, rather than just circling around City Park dodging geese. And since I didn’t see a sign forbidding it I assume it’s ok to put your chihuahua or other small dog in the basket.
I haven’t ridden one, but they feel sturdy, solid, are have lights and an adjustable seat.
Another plus: You can rent and return at different stations. The system is far more intelligent and complex than I expected any bike sharing program to be. You can see online in real time which stations have bikes available, and which can accept returns. If your destination rack is full the kiosk will direct you to the nearest open station and give you “free time” to cover transit. Another technological integration: Each bike is equipped with GPS and RFID – and as a member your trips, mileage and logged to your account.
The only negative? I see it as cost prohibitive for some. In order to compensate for all the great things listed above they seem pricy. The $5 “one day membership” fee could be ditched. It’s akin to an airport WiFi “one time charge,” in that you’re being forced to purchase a membership for something you may use only once.
The pricing structure encourages people to use the bikes for point A to B transit, then park them back at a station. With a membership 60 minutes of use is only $1.10, an excellent rate, but conversly keeping a bike for a full day will cost $65. It would be nice to have a reasonable day rate, but I can understand the need to keep bikes available for all and not locked up at coffee shops unused for hours.
If you and your sweetheart visit Denver for the weekend and want to see sights by bike, (rather than renting a car or using transit,) it will cost you $5 per day for the membership, and two hours per day would be $6.60. That rate times two days and two people that would be $46. Judge for yourself.
If I were visiting town I wouldn’t hesitate to take one out for a few hours. And if I didn’t own a bike, (or car,) I could see myself picking one at times for errands
It appears that Denver is the unaugural city for B-Cycle, as I don’t see any others listed under “other cities.” I think it’s a great program, I’m proud to see it and I hope for its long term success.
Check them out and take a ride a http://www.bcycle.com/ The slick video demo is well done and informative, but one nit-picky observation: As a bike commuter of seven years I recommend keeping your white dress pants AT work and ride around with dark pants. Trust me.
Photos and additional info by Caleb Cross