Starting in late April, weather permitting, Denver will have the first city-wide bike sharing program in the country.
"The idea is that we want people to take very short trips," Parry Burnap, Executive Director of Denver Bike Sharing, said. "Forty nine percent of American car trips are under three miles. Just think about that and the impact on health, the environment, the sense of community. We're trying to get people out of their cars for those short trips and combine a bike trip with a light rail experience or an RTD experience."
The use of bicycles during the Democratic National Convention inspired the creation of Denver Bike Sharing, a nonprofit organization.
The organization will own and operate 45 to 50 stations with 500 bikes across the city. The stations will bare the name B-cycle. B-cycle LLC is the designer of the bike sharing system owned and operated by Denver Bike Sharing.
The stations are essentially automated bike racks, with credit card terminals.
Riders can either buy a year-long unlimited membership for $65 or pay at the time they rent the bike.
The first 30 minutes is free, the following half hour will cost $1.10. There is an escalating price beyond the second half hour.
Burnap says if corporations sign up their employees, the yearly fee is $55. Students will pay a $40 yearly membership.
"The core business district is our main focus, but we'll have surrounding nodes in Cherry Creek North, Lower Highlands and here in DU," Burnap said. "The idea is to make them as dense as possible so that they're reliable, you can predict you're going to get a bike and you'll find a place to return it when you need to."
The University of Denver has been the test site for the program.
Three stations with 30 bicycles are available to 200 students and staff.
"Just an easy way to get from one end of campus to the other," graduate student Kristi Roybal said. "I get off the train, I can pick one up right here and then take one over to my school. It facilitates easy transportation."
DU's Director of Campus Activities Carl Johnson said bike sharing has been very successful at the university.
In the first 10 days to two weeks, the bikes were used several hundred times.
"This is an option to have a bike on campus but also to be tied to the greater city," Johnson said. "Once these kiosks are around the city, I think it will give them (students) a great opportunity to go out and explore their city."
Burnap says Denver Bike Sharing will not be a year-round program, at least not the first year. The bikes will be available March through November.
"The thing about bikes is, it's such a simple act with which you control your weight, you see your neighbors, you smell flowers and by the way you're working to protect the planet and address climate change, reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and it's empowering to know you can do something about issue so daunting and have fun," Burnap said.
Riders will be responsible for their own helmets.
To register, you can visit denver.bcycle.com.
Map: Denver Bike Sharing Proposed Station Locations - Spring 2010
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