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Borrowing a bike to get around town

6:35 AM, May 21, 2010   |    comments
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The downtown Denver resident does not own a car and has been taking advantage of Denver Bike Sharing program that launched on April 22.

"This is kind of a blessing, because it's a great excuse not to pay for a bike," Covrigaruk said. "It's 65 bucks for the year. If you need it to get around, it's super convenient and cost effective. They should raise the prices actually."

Covrigaruk is one of 625 people who signed up for the annual membership in the Denver Bike Sharing program. The program is the first of its kind in the country, according to organizers.

The group says 2,500 others paid to use the bike for 24 hours. Eight thousand bike rides have been taken.

"We would like to get people out of their cars for short trips," Parry Burnap, executive director of Denver Bike Sharing, said. "Forty nine percent of American car trips are three miles or less. We want to mitigate climate change. We want to get people out in their neighborhoods. We want to get them moving, losing weight, being healthy, happy."

The start has been admittedly slow, and the rainy and cold weather did not help. Burnap says it has given them a chance to work out the kinks.

"We're really happy with where we are because there is a continuing trend up as the days get nicer and the days get longer," Burnap said.

A number of memberships are available. A 24-hour membership costs $5. It is $20 for a week, $30 for 30 days and $65 for a year.

The first 30 minutes are free, but if a rider does not park the bike at one of the stations around the city within 30 minutes of getting it, there are additional charges beyond the membership fees. The additional charges begin at $1.10 and are on an escalating scale. The additional fees are designed to keep the rides short and promote constant use and turnover of the bikes.

"They're shared bicycles meant for short trips," Burnap said. "They're not meant for recreational long rides through out the city."

The longest commute possible on the bikes is a 25 minute ride from the University of Denver to the Cherry Creek station.

Right now, Denver has 42 stations with 395 bikes. Eight more stations are being installed. When they are complete, 460 bicycles will be available. Forty more are on stand-by for big events.

"The stations are really working for people who commute into Denver on light rail or who live in some of the newer urban dense developments on the outskirts of town," Burnap said. "It's also really working for people who are trying to get into lower downtown for Rockies games or games at the Pepsi center, clubs, restaurants."

According to Burnap, no local tax dollars were used for the effort. It is funded by grants and sponsors.

Denver Bike Sharing is in the top 200 candidates to win the Pepsi Refresh Grant for $250,000. Coloradans can vote until May 31 for Denver to win. If the Denver Bike Sharing program takes the first prize, organizers say the money will be used for education and safety outreach, among other things.

Right now, Denver is 175th out of 1,341 applicants with 11 days to go. If the city breaks into the top 100, it will get another shot next month.

To vote, visit http://www.refresheverything.com/denverbcycle.

For more information on the program, visit http://www.bcycle.com/.

(KUSA-TV © 2010 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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