City’s WE-cycle study expected by mid-June

Mirte Mallory stands next to a WE-cycle station on the east side of the Rubey Park bus terminal in this Aspen Times file photo. Mallory is director of the bike-sharing system
Andre Salvail / Aspen Times |

Organizers of a possible bike-share program in Glenwood Springs have begun the initial work to line up support and determine if it’s feasible to implement a full-scale program in the city.

Recently, Glenwood Springs City Council agreed to pay $10,000 of the estimated $18,500 cost to complete the so-called “scoping” phase of the study.

The newly formed Glenwood Springs Bicycle-Sharing Initiative advisory committee is also slated to request $5,000 from the Garfield County commissioners on Monday.

Mirte Mallory, executive director of the Aspen-based WE-cycle program, said the remainder of the funds would have to come from possible grant sources and volunteer help.

The scoping portion of the feasibility study is expected to be completed by mid-June, she said. That’s when operators of the three-year-old Aspen program, which is scheduled to expand to Basalt this summer, should have a good idea if it’s something that can work in Glenwood.

“We have already been out talking to stakeholders, including local bike rental shops about the difference between bike share versus bike rentals,” Mallory said at the April 7 City Council meeting.

Rather than longer-term rentals, the bike-sharing system is intended as a pay-per-ride option for people to hop on a bike to get to different points around town. Most trips are 30 minutes or less, she explained.

The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority has agreed to host one of the city’s bike-share stations at its 27th Street BRT station, Mallory said.

City officials have been supportive of pursuing a bike-share program Glenwood Springs as a way to help ease traffic congestion, especially during the Grand Avenue bridge construction and the planned Highway 82 detour in late 2017.

Once the new bridge is built, a bike share program would provide a non-motorized alternative to maneuvering around town, especially with some 5 miles of separation from one end of Glenwood to the other.

The scoping phase of the study will help determine if a city bike share is something that can support itself financially, including costs estimates to implement and operating the program.

“Like all transit systems, implementing a bike-share system requires dutiful vetting, analysis, planning, cost estimates, securing of funding and community-sensitive engagement,” Mallory said in her April 7 presentation to council.

The study will include a map showing the ideal locations for bike stations, to be completed yet this month, as well as an implementation plan, estimated capital expenses, first-year operating budget and a long-term operating plan.

Longtime community activist Steve Smith has agreed to lead the advisory committee that will be overseeing the Glenwood Springs study.

Mallory said she and Smith will work closely to come up with the plan “in a timely and cost-effective manner,” with help from RFTA, city staff and contract engineering services.

The city would like to launch the program by May 2017, which Mallory said is a “very ambitious timeline,” noting that it took three years to get the Aspen program up and running.

More than 60 cities across the United States and some 500 worldwide have bike-sharing systems. Aspen’s WE-cycle became the first such system in North America to operate in a mountain resort town. It now has 100 bikes and 16 stations around town.

A mix of public and private money was used to implement the program. Partners included the city of Aspen, Pitkin County, RFTA, the Aspen Skiing Co. and real estate attorneys Genshaft Cramer LLP.

Initial estimates have indicated the Glenwood Springs program would likely require at least 100 bikes, and an investment of around $500,000.

The feasibility study is expected to be presented at the June 16 Glenwood City Council meeting.

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