City's Bike-Share Program Prepares to Expand

March 2010

When the Democratic National Convention came to town in the summer of 2008, a fledgling program called Freewheelin' provided 1,000 bikes for people to borrow in an effort to reduce traffic and improve health. When the convention left town, Freewheelin' promised to leave the bikes behind so that Denver could launch a permanent bike-share program. Since then, only city employees have been allowed to use the bikes for free. The pilot program saw city employees ride 30 bikes just 490 times in 2009, an average of 16 rides per bike, or 1.9 riders per workday of the 2,000 people who work at the Wellington E. Webb Municipal Building downtown, points out The Denver Post. Of course, "you have to figure that there are about four months of winter weather with days when bikes are basically unridable," notes Steve Sander, the city marketing director, who is tasked with expanding the program citywide. This month crews will begin work on 40 bike stations downtown, along Cherry Creek, and near the University of Denver. The stations will dock 500 red Trek three-speeds with baskets, locks, and headlights, although helmets will not be included. Stations will be equipped with credit card terminals, and riders can purchase a year-long, unlimited membership for $65, or pay as they go, notes 9News. The first 30 minutes are free, the following half hour will cost $1.10, and so forth in a fee structure that involves discounts, for instance, for students. "The idea is that we want people to take very short trips," says Parry Burnap, executive director of Denver Bike Sharing. "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."