June 16 2014

B-Cycle® Denver: The Bike Sharing Start-Up is Changing Commuting in Denver

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

 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

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.

Jonathan Knight

Jonathan Knight is an award-winning planner and a recent graduate of Kansas State University with a Master's of Regional and Community Planning and Minor in Business. His interest in planning probably came from his avid playing of "Roller Coaster Tycoon" as a child: always fascinated in how complex things in the built environment worked; how they fit together; and why people feel certain ways in different environments. He has worked in sustainability, regional planning, and school planning. He is a professional freelance photojournalist and has been published in national, regional, and local publications. Upon graduation, Jonathan followed his dreams of living near the Rocky Mountains and moved west to Denver, Colorado. At some point during his time at The Grid in 2014, he will have climbed all 58 14,000 foot peaks in Colorado--a 12-year journey completed! Jonathan will be blogging about innovative urban planning, transportation, and housing projects occurring in the Denver region as it seeks to be a world-class city for businesses and people.

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This entry was posted on Monday, June 16th, 2014 at 9:11 am and is filed under Environmental Design, Infrastructure, Transportation. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


3 Responses to “B-Cycle® Denver: The Bike Sharing Start-Up is Changing Commuting in Denver”

  1. Niall Walsh Says:

    Glasgow, Scotland, has recently (2 weeks ago) started a bike shareing scheme. My initial thoughts on its very earliest format is that it enforces the already entrenched mentality of an east-west divide in the city. Prodominately the bikes are in the City Centre (a shared place for rich and poor) and the west end (a predominately affluent enclave). Like I mentioned its in its very earliest stages, and I belive that if it is to be deemed a real success it has to be expanded into east end (a stronghold of deprivation) and look to ultimately break down the mental barriers between east and west rather then enforcing it.

  2. Why Did Copenhagen’s Biking Rate Surge in One Year? | Streetsblog.net Says:

    […] new city transportation chief Scott Kubly, who was Gabe Klein’s deputy in Chicago and DC. And Global Site Plans explains how Denver B-Cycle fits into the city’s plans to reach 10 percent bike commute mode […]

  3. Jonathan Knight Says:

    Hi Niall, thanks for your comment. I’m not familiar with Glasgow enough to respond specifically, but it sounds like bike sharing is generating some interesting effects there, whether intended or unintended. Thanks for reading!

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