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After nearly 10 years operating in the city, the days of Denver B-Cycle are coming to an end. Denver Bike Sharing, the nonprofit that has operated B-Cycle in the Mile High City since 2010, announced in a press release Thursday morning that B-Cycle’s last day of operation will be January 30, 2020, citing several reasons for the decision, including an aging fleet of more than 700 fixed-docking bicycles and the development of new technology like dockless electric scooters.
Mike Pletsch, Denver Bike Sharing’s executive director, says the the decision came after much consideration and noted his team is already in talks with new vendors to launch a service in 2020, though it’s unclear when a new fleet will be ready and what vendor they will work with. The docking stations will disappear on January 30, though Denver Bike Share will hold permits for those stations and could reuse that space depending on what vendor they choose. Pletsch expects there to be a gap in service, but he’s aiming to secure a new contract with the city in early 2020.
In conjunction with the B-Cycle news, Denver’s Department of Public Works (DPW) announced Thursday it will change the way bike and scooter share programs are operated in the city. In July, DPW announced a permanent program through which nearly 3,000 electric scooters and electric bicycles were able to secure permits. However, the city is now scrapping the permit process in favor of a request-for-proposal (RFP) bid format.
According to a release Thursday morning, DPW will “go out to bid for one or more companies to operate shared bike and scooter services in Denver.”
In addition to B-Cycle, there are several permitted scooter and bike share companies operating in the city today, including Bird, Lime, Razor, and Lyft. It’s now unclear if all of those companies—in addition to the new vendor Denver Bike Sharing selects—will secure a contract from the city after the bidding process. According to DPW, the operators that secure new contracts will launch in summer 2020.
Pletsch, who supports the city’s RFP format, is confident Denver Bike Sharing will win one of those contracts to operate in the city after B-Cycle’s fleet leaves the street. He cites the organization’s experience and good working relationship with the city as reasons his team will be successful in the bidding process.
B-Cycle formally launched in 2010, but the concept first emerged as a pilot program during the 2008 Democratic National Convention, after which Denver Bike Sharing formed to operate the first-of-its-kind service in the country. Though B-Cycle is owned by Trek, a bike manufacturer, it was operated independently in Denver for the past decade. Other B-Cycle services around the country—in places like Boulder and Austin—will not be impacted by Thursday’s announcement, and Pletsch says he does not anticipate reducing his staff as a result of B-Cycle’s departure.