E-bikes roll out in bike sharing program in Aspen, Basalt

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Samantha Parr checks out the new WeCycle e-bike from the Rubey Park fleet in Aspen on Wednesday, August 5, 2020. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

WE-cycle, the area’s bike-share program, has ratcheted up a few gears as it has added e-bikes to its fleet, as well as made its debut in Snowmass Village this summer.

Six e-bikes, which are motorized, pedal-assisted bicycles, rolled out Wednesday, three of which are in Aspen and three in Basalt.

More than 20 people had ridden them in Aspen on the first day of rollout, according to WE-cycle representatives.

On Wednesday evening, two of the three available e-bikes in Aspen were docked at Truscott, an affordable housing complex at the Aspen Golf Course and the farthest locale of WE-cycle docking stations from downtown.

It took 10 minutes to travel from there to the docking station at the Rio Grande parking garage, taking the bike path under Castle Creek Bridge, onto Hopkins Avenue and through downtown.

The e-bikes, which are distinctively green, can be found alongside the silver pedal-powered WE-cycle bikes in docking stations around town.

Both the city of Aspen and the town of Basalt each spent $5,000 toward this year’s pilot program, according to Mirte Mallory, co-founder and executive director of WE-cycle.

“Bikes are proving to be a healthy, active and socially distant form of travel and e-bikes are making it easier and time-effective to get on a bike instead of in a car to get into and around town,” she said. “This test will help determine if there is community interest in future e-bike expansion.”

Riding the e-bikes is free for the first 20 minutes, and 30 minutes for the traditional pedal-powered bikes, as they are designed for quick trips around town and getting people to use alternative modes of transportation other than cars.

A fee of $5 a minute will be implemented past the 20-minute threshold for the e-bikes. It is 50 cents a minute after 30 minutes on the regular silver-colored bikes.

Mallory said after receiving feedback from area bike shops, the $5 a minute fee for e-bikes in the WE-cycle fleet was agreed upon so as not to create competition but to gauge interest in the program.

There is a list of Aspen bike shops on the e-bikes, as well as on WE-cycle’s website, encouraging riders to seek traditional bicycle rentals locally for longer trips.

The new additions bring WE-cycle’s total fleet to 240 bikes that are available throughout Aspen, Snowmass Village and Basalt.

This is the third year that WE-cycle is offered for free to the community.

Riding at no charge is made possible by subsidies provided by the city of Aspen, the Elected Officials Transportation Committee, the town of Basalt, Eagle County and the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority.

The total subsidy for this year is $482,000 and the WE-cycle operating budget is $660,000.

John Krueger, the city’s transportation director, said the municipal government is acting on the community’s desire for this type of alternative transportation and e-bikes are the next logical step.

“Last year the city of Aspen completed an extensive community engagement project to determine the collective will on the installation of e-bikes and scooters in Aspen and the response was overwhelmingly in favor of a small test project with an already established bike provider,” he said.

Mallory said getting public feedback is crucial to the future of the program.

“We are eager to hear the community’s feedback,” she said.

Riders will receive a survey after their first trip and anyone can send feedback on the pilot program to info@we-cycle.org, or take the survey online at http://www.we-cycle.org.

WE-cycle e-bikes can be found by downloading the Transit app, and then looking for the WE-cycle station pin with a lightning bolt icon.

Customers can check out and return e-bikes in the same way they check out a pedal-powered WE-cycle bike.

The Transit app gives users a code to unlock a bike, or customers who have one can use their key card.

Basalt Mayor Bill Kane, an avid cyclist and co-chair of the Aspen Institute’s Community Forum on Transportation and Mobility, said the e-bike pilot program aligns with the government’s master plan to provide better transportation connections between the east and west portions of the town.

“(The program) supports the goals of our climate action plan to get cars off the road and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

csackariason@aspentimes.com





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