Skip to content
 

Denver B-Cycle Ready to Roll

On April 22, Denver launches B-Cycle, an ambitious bicycle-sharing program that will provide hundreds of bikes for rent at around 30 locations in the Downtown area and another dozen or so locations elsewhere in the city, such as Cherry Creek and the University of Denver.

Seeing the B-Cycle stations installed around Downtown over the past few weeks has been exciting. Here are two that I pass on my walk to work:

B-Cycle station at 16th & Platte B-Cycle station at 16th & Little Raven

As the B-Cycle website states, about 40% of all trips Americans take are less than two miles in length… perfect for a bicycle trip! B-Cycle gives Denver citizens another viable transportation option, and is one more step in the process of transitioning our automobile-dependent society into one that relies on multiple modes of transportation that are healthier and more environmentally and economically sustainable.

Here’s a map of just the Downtown locations. You can view an interactive map of all B-Cycle station locations on the B-Cycle website.

B-Cycle station locations in Downtown Denver

The Downtown Denver Partnership and the City of Denver are committed to improving the environment in Downtown for bicycles. Adding the B-Cycle program only reinforces that need and strengthens the argument for committing more of our public rights-of-way to non-motor vehicle uses.

Share This Post


30 Comments

  1. Matt Pizzuti says:

    Nice! Two thoughts. First, how many people have signed up for memberships so far?

    Second: prices. I’m wondering why Denver’s B-cycle program is so much more expensive than SmartBikeDC, which looks like the only analogous program in the U.S. (there are lots in Europe).

    Look at the difference here –
    Washington DC: https://www.smartbikedc.com/fees.asp
    Denver: http://denver.bcycle.com/pricing.aspx

    Both programs are pretty cheap, but there’s still apparently a difference in intended use if you look at the fees. DC charges a flat rate of $40 a month for the membership, and does not charge per-minute or per-hour; Denver charges a little less for the membership and then charges extra per hour (unless I’m reading the little “plus” sign on Denver’s website wrong and Denver’s program only charges per hour if you are not a member, but from what I can tell it looks like you must be a member to rent a bike.)

    Anyway, Denver’s rental prices start off with really cheap fees (the first 30 minutes are free) but they increase significantly per-hour if you hang on to the bike for longer. After two hours it’s charging $8.80 per hour.

    Also, the replacement fees in Denver are double; DC charges $550 for a lost bike and Denver charges $1000.

    The 24 hour $1,000 charge is intimidating since many of the program’s users will be low-income or students; they should just initiate the fee after 24 hours but then say they’ll cancel it if you return the bike minus $70 per day. Off the top of my head I can’t think of why anyone would fail to return a bike, unless they were really confused about what they were signing up for and actually locked the bike up at a dorm or something thinking they’d rent it for a week, or if it was stolen from them. (In any case there’s no way those bikes actually cost $1,000 to manufacture; I bet you’re going to hit a lot of credit limits and have a harder time actually recovering those fees.)

    • Kevin says:

      As of April 15th, 61 people have signed up (including me). The Denver bcycle organizers sent an email to all it’s members last night and didn’t bcc. Out of the 61 though, you can safely remove domains like @bcycle.com and @denverbikesharing.org from the list – I’m also assuming addresses like advertising@lifeoncaphill.com won’t correspond with regular riders. I don’t want to publish all of our email adresses here, but I’m fairly disappointed in the organization so far

    • BeyondDC says:

      The DC program is $40 per year, not month. It is so cheap because it is too small to generate enough demand to price it any higher. With only 10 stations in a city that is functionally much larger than Denver, it just isn’t very useful. It is really more of a pilot program than a real bike-sharing system.

      When DC expands (watch for announcement really soon), the prices will be more in line with B-cycle.

  2. Stosh says:

    I am 100% behind this program but, lets not only provide our citizens access to Bcycles, lets provide them with the knowledge and safety our resident need for this program to be successful.
    With hundreds of new bikes on our streets, I suggest “Rules of the Road” signs be posted at each Bcycle station and at stop lights for cars to see. Also, a direct mail piece could be sent out to all Denver residents “promoting” Bcycle locations, prices, bike lane maps and proper road “etiquette” for all modes of transportation in our city.
    Lastly, I suggest we reduce speed limits 5-10mph across the board in Denver and continue to increase dedicated Bike lanes, crosswalks, signage and lane reducation which increases parking and safety for all our residents. Thanks for the post!

  3. CN says:

    Where’s this FUD about a $1000 charge for a 24-hour rental coming from? Check out their pricing here: http://denver.bcycle.com/pricing.aspx. This morning, they sent an email to everyone who’s signed up — and didn’t hide the email addresses, i.e., didn’t use bcc. Based on that, it looks like only about 100 people are in the program at the $65/year level. Of course, they could very well have sent multiple emails, and the program doesn’t kick off for another week. If you support the concept, sign up!

    • ScottG says:

      I do support the concept and I would love to sign up for an annual membership, but as a Platt Park resident I can’t see myself using the service all that often at this point. Until there are south Denver locations outside of Platt Park, DU and Cherry Creek I don’t see this as anything more than a fun weekend novelty yet. If, however, more locations spring up around Wash park, Bonnie Brae, Alamo Placito, 6th Ave, etc., I could see myself signing up for a long term membership and using the Bcyles instead of riding my own bike. I like the idea of just dropping off the bike and not having to worry. I foresee rides downtown ending in many beers and a light rail ride home in that case.

    • Matt Pizzuti says:

      It’s $1,000 if you don’t return the bike in 24 hours, at which point they they register it as stolen.

      Look on the fees page under “replacement fee.”

  4. ballpark resident says:

    Is there an assumption that many residents don’t have their own bikes to ride around on?

    • Bob says:

      I have my own bike, but the more I think about it, this holds some appeal over using my own to get around town. Mainly, the risk of having one of these stolen is pretty much nil (because I’d almost never lock one anywhere other than a B-station, and it’d be plainly obvious where it came from if anyone tried to sell one). My bike, on the other hand, cost about $1000 and carries a few hundred extra in attached and unattached accessories. Even with fancy locks, its still a prime target for theft.

      I may join up and use the B-cycles just for getting around downtown, and use my expensive bike for longer recreational rides.

      There are a lot of places notably absent from the list of dock locations though. No St. Joseph Hospital? Not a single one on Auraria campus? City or Washington Parks?

    • BeyondDC says:

      The idea is that it is much more convenient to simply pick up and drop off a bike whenever you need one (especially if your trip includes a leg on transit) than it is to worry about locking your private bike. Also, there are a lot of times when you just don’t happen to have your personal bike with you.

      All the European cities with big bike-share networks also have high bike ownership rates. People find they are more convenient for many trips, or that they make trips on the bike that they didn’t before.

  5. kropotkin says:

    Thanks for posting this Ken!

  6. Matt says:

    Little bit bummed at the $5 dollar a day 24hr membership – i think it should have been cheaper. Otherwise I hope it succeeds! I think the program will take a few weeks/months to find it’s groove, but it’ll get rolling soon enough.

  7. Brett says:

    I’m concerned that more people on bikes means much more dangerous sidewalks for pedestrians. It does not seem that there is any enforcement of laws forbidding bicycles on city sidewalks. I’ve witnessed hardly any concern by bicyclists for pedestrians’ safety. I’m unsure how this program makes Denver a more ‘walkable’ city.

    • Matt Pizzuti says:

      I don’t think that this will significantly increase the number of people who use bikes in Denver. It just makes it easier for those who do to use short trips, and makes it easier for tourists to bike around.

      These bikes do not look like speed bikes and it would be pretty tough to go fast on them, based on the way they are built.

      Also, bikes are not pedestrians, bikes are traffic. They belong in the street in designated bike lanes, not on sidewalks. The city could definitely expand its system of bike lanes, but they do not belong on sidewalks and shouldn’t interfere with pedestrians.

      • Matt says:

        I agree, but I highly doubt tourists are going to jump out in traffic on those bikes in a strange city using only Sharrows.

        Protected bike lanes would have been a better option, IMHO… but they’re expensive. The tourists/locals will be riding all willy nilly on sidewalks.

        • Brendan says:

          I never see bikes on sidewalks, or rarely. I think this really isn’t a concern.

          • Andrew says:

            Bikes on the sidewalk are a big problem on Broadway between 1st Ave and Alameda. I’ve been nearly hit a few times, and clipped once on the shoulder.

          • Brett says:

            I know of two people hit (one seriously injured) on 17th. I’ve has a few near misses, one near the Library, One on the ‘Fax. It IS a problem.

  8. patrick says:

    This isn’t a post about the Bicycle article, but a story that appeared in the Post. You probably have seen it already, but its about the 1800 Larimer building. Interesting article

    http://www.denverpost.com/entertainment/ci_14892765

    LOVE your site!!!!!

  9. […] and/or taxi fares, but you can get exercise and help our environment all at the same time.  http://denverinfill.com/blog/2010/04/denver-b-cycle-ready-to-roll.htmlhttp://www.denverpost.com/headlines/ci_14905785 […]

  10. curious says:

    I just checked this new enterprise. Lots of questions. Why are all the bikes ugly red? Why is there both a flat charge and a usage charge? If I want to test one of these bikes I have to fork out at least $5. How many people are going to be deterred by that? How does that free 30 min period work? Can I just take a bike, drop it at next site and immediately check it out again, thereby extending my 30 min usage period? How often can I do that if so? How heavy is this bike? Am I going to be able to make it up the hill from downtown towards city park with just 3 gears available?

    • Matt says:

      They aren’t ugly, I don’t think.

      My understanding of the system (if it’s anything like the Velib) is that you will pay the $5 initially, but that buys you an unlimited number of 30 minute trips during that day.

    • Troy says:

      This system is designed for short trips, thus the 30 min free for each session and then higher $ rate every .5 hr thereafter. There are 40 stations now and 50 planned by July. There are even more stations than existed when the maps were recently printed. If you have a 1 day membership then you can check out bikes all day long every .5 hr and not pay usage fees. The bike is heavy, over 40 pounds I believe. Stop by a station between Thur and Sat and chances are good that you will get a coupon that waives the daily membership fee (though usage fees apply).

      Give it a try!

    • Matt Pizzuti says:

      The bikes are “ugly red” for the same reason taxis are yellow: identification.

      They’re marked so that they are distinct from other bikes and nobody steals them. If somebody sells you a B-cycle bike you’re gonna know it’s B-cycle.

      Look at the other bike sharing examples from across the world; they all use obnoxious colors as identifiers. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle_sharing_system

  11. tzabel says:

    A bunch of whiners on here. $65 for the year is too expensive? Gimme a break… $5 to try it out? Big deal. It’s a good idea and long overdue. Denver is the perfect city for something like this and I am happy to see it here. I was in Montreal last summer and used their similar system–probably a bit more expensive than here but was well worth it.

  12. UrbanZen says:

    Awesome idea. Now all we need is an app that let’s u check out bikes, manage your account, brouse station locations, and track your time & mileage, all from the convenience of your smart phone.

  13. Charles says:

    I signed up and am looking forward to trying this out. Hooray Denver!

  14. Bob says:

    My wife and I just took our first ride on these. My impressions are mostly positive.

    We started at the 16th & Platte dock and ended at the 19th & Pearl dock, then came back and returned the bikes to 16th & Little Raven. Each direction took about 15 minutes with light traffic, so you can definitely get more or less from end to end in under 30 minutes. We had some minor technical issues at the checkout – the first dock my wife tried sat at the yellow “hourglass” light for awhile then gave up. She was able to use another dock at the same location without waiting though.

    The bikes are very heavy – 45 lbs. according to the woman who was stationed there to help people use the system. They have 3 gears which provide enough differentiation to climb the hills in downtown easily. Its definitely not a speed bike though — you aren’t going to be keeping up with traffic no matter what you do. The seats are easy to adjust and the built-in bell some in handy on the dual-use paths (such as along 20th street).

    While the technical issues we encountered were minimal, the dock we returned at (16th & Little Raven) seemed to be having some major technical problems – several people were standing around there and said they hadn’t been able to check a bike out.

    So it was a pretty good experience, and very convenient. Hopefully they can iron out the technical issues quickly.

    Also, in case anyone was wondering about it, I asked a question via the web form about where to find the iPhone app – they said it was awaiting approval from Apple.

  15. Aaron Dalton says:

    For those interested in continuing coverage of Denver’s bike sharing experiment, my blog (Bikeway Central) will be publishing a series of interviews with some of the major players involved in developing the pilot program and rolling out the full enchilada.

    Here’s a link to the original story – http://www.bikewaycentral.com/2010/04/denver-celebrates-earth-day-with-launch.html

    And here’s a link to the first interview with Antoine Perretta, Undergraduate Student President at University of Denver, where B-Cycle collaborated on a pilot bike sharing program before launching the city-wide network – http://www.bikewaycentral.com/2010/04/interview-antoine-perretta-on-origins.html

    Stay tuned to Bikeway Central for additional interviews related to the Denver B-Cycle launch, plus coverage of other bike infrastructure projects around the country…

    – Aaron Dalton, Editor, Bikeway Central

  16. Caleb Cross says:

    I started examining the B-Cycle system and am quite impressed. When I thought of a bike sharing program I imagined a few simple racks at tourists points or busy commuter hubs – but there are many stations all over town and even down to the tech center.

    I think there could be a medium price between a 1-2 hour rental versus a daily rate. For a visitor it could be cost prohibitive to keep a bike for more than 2-3 hours a day — and the pricing structure encourages people to use the bikes for point A to B transit, then park them back at a station.

    Overall I love it, and am proud to have it here in Denver – and there’s one just a couple blocks away from my house at the Botanic Gardens, perfect for guests!

    I wish it long term success!