In previous articles, I have discussed Denver’s attempts to expand transportation alternatives and curb its air pollution problems by expanding light-rail and create a wider portfolio of sustainable transportation choices.
When current Colorado governor John Hickenlooper was Mayor of Denver, he announced an ambitious goal to increase the number of Denver residents commuting to work by bicycle from 1.6% to 10% by August 2018.
B-Cycle® Denver, a bicycle sharing provider, is a frontrunner in changing how Denver residents commute and travel. They are a key to increasing the number of commuters from 1.6% to 10% to meet Hickenlooper’s goal.
B-cycle® Denver station in downtown Denver
Bike-sharing programs have been popular in many countries, for many years. Amsterdam was the first to have bike-sharing way back in 1960. Denver B-Cycle®, however, is the country’s first large-scale municipal bike-sharing initiative.
The organization started in a unique way. When Mayor Hickenlooper stated he wanted the 2008 Democratic National Convention to be “the greenest in the history of mankind,” a number of groups brainstormed how that might happen. What resulted were 1,000 bikes made available for the short-term bike sharing program for the 2008 Democratic National Convention. That’s how B-Cycle® got its start in Denver.
Currently there are fifty-three stations around the downtown core with 530 bikes. That equates to about twenty-eight million calories, 8,195 pounds of fat lost, and it has saved more than 68,000 gallons of gas. The Denver City Council recently voted to allow B-Cycle® to expand by adding twenty-seven more stations.
The program is not without its criticism, however. During a City Council meeting to expand the program, several council members expressed their concern that station locations are largely in white-dominant, middle-to-upper income areas. No stations are located in the predominantly minority, poorer districts west of downtown. B-Cycle® argues it must locate where it believes ridership will increase.
Others point to the cost and inconvenience of having to find a station. They argue that it is probably just easier to buy a cheap bike or borrow a friend’s or rommmate’s bike.
B-cycle® Denver bikes in downtown Denver
Despite this criticism, the program is a progressive start in the right direction for Denver transportation alternatives and Denver’s urban planning. The young B-Cycle® Denver program is well on its way to filling a much needed gap in Denver: an alternative besides driving your car.
Does your city have bicycle sharing? What initiatives or incentives are needed in your community to make bicycle sharing viable? Have you ever used bicycle sharing, if so, what are your thoughts on bicycle sharing as a mode of transportation?
Credits: Images by Jonathan Knight. Data linked to sources.