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Bike Sharing

Thursday: Bike-Sharing Launches in Denver

Earth Day is coming around the bend, and cities are
timing their new green initiatives to coincide with the public's
heightened eco-consciousness. Here's one we're partial to: In Denver,
Mayor John Hickenlooper and city leaders are using the occasion to
launch their 500-bicycle, 50-station bike-share system. It will be the
largest bike-share system in the U.S. until Minneapolis and Boston roll theirs out later this spring.

denver_bike_share.jpgDenver will launch its bike-share system this week with 500 bicycles at 50 stations, aiming to expand to 1,100 bikes in 2011.

While Minneapolis and Boston selected the company behind Montreal's Bixi to run their bike-share systems, Denver went with B-cycle, a joint venture between Trek Bicycles, health insurer Humana, and PR firm Crispin, Porter + Bogusky. B-cycle had a demo station
set up at Pier 84 on the Hudson River Greenway yesterday, where I had
to the chance to talk to company president Bob Burns about how the
system works.

In Denver, B-cycle will be financed by ads and
user subscriptions, with annual memberships priced at $65. Members get
RFID cards that they can swipe at individual docks to check out
bicycles. The first 30 minutes of each ride are free, with each
additional hour priced at one dollar.

The stations can
run on solar or A/C power. Denver has chosen to place their kiosks in
plazas and other pedestrian spaces, not in parking lanes like they do
in Paris.

One of the interesting features that
distinguishes B-cycle is its tracking system. Each bike is equipped
with a GPS unit, so users can access their member profiles online and
see where they biked, how far they rode, and how many calories they
burned. The cumulative GPS data from the entire system should also
prove to be a valuable resource for transportation planners. "It gives
cities a lot of information on where cyclists are going and which
routes are being used," said Burns. "They can make more intelligent
decisions about where to invest in infrastructure."

Buoyed by Ray LaHood's recent statements of support
for bicycle infrastructure, Burns was appropriately bullish, for a
bike-share exec, on the future of bike-share in American cities. "Once
people see it can happen and that it can work, and people in those
cities appreciate it," he said, "we think it's gonna explode."

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