Bike share schemes allow people to borrow a bike from point “A” and return it at point “B”. Bicycle sharing isn’t a new idea, but it is new to Colorado Springs. If Colorado Springs had a bike-sharing program for commuters and tourists, it would be a way to improve the quality of life. Susan Edmondson, president and CEO of the Downtown Partnership of Colorado Springs is a huge supporter, and has sponsored and promoted events such as fun downtown rides. Funding for the program, however, is an issue. As in other cities, grants, private sponsorship’s and user fees will make the bike-share program possible.
Fortunately, there are others that want to help. Councilwoman Jill Gaebler is pursuing a B-cycle program for the Springs because bikes don’t pollute or use fuel. Gaebler wants to find the best structure for a ride share program. Besides funding, “we need to make it safer to ride bikes on our streets. If you ride, you know there are 10 to 20 little junctions that need to happen to make this a really rideable city,” she said. “We need to get the inner-connectivity piece done well so they are safe and comfortable for people.” Her advocacy group works with city traffic engineers to identify core routes to be improved.
Connecting downtown with the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and the North Nevada Ave shopping district as well as Colorado College, the Penrose and Memorial hospital campuses, the Ivywild neighborhood to the south, and Old Colorado City and Manitou Springs to the west are the major common areas that Gaebler intends to fix.
Allen Beauchamp, a local cycling advocate, is also on board. He knows first hand that the program is beneficial because he is a card-carrying member of Denver’s B-cycle program. He loves being able to drive north, park, and take a short bike ride to his destination. He believes springs residents will embrace the concept. “It would be really nice for people working downtown to hop on a bike at lunch and take a ride without giving up their parking spot,” Beauchamp said. “Or to hop on a bike to ride to a meeting that is just beyond walking distance.”
The program works so that both residents and visitors can buy daily, weekly or annual program memberships and/or pay hourly fees to check out a bike to ride around town. Mayor John Hickenlooper approved the Denver B-cycle program with 700 bicycles ranging across a total of 80 stations in 2010. Places in Colorado that already offer bike sharing also include Aspen, Boulder, and Fort Collins.
Despite some financial challenges, bike-sharing programs are rolling out in cities throughout the U.S. While the cost of setting up bike-share programs is coming down, critics argue that getting a bike from a bike rental outlet is more realistic. They may even end up being less expensive than bike-share programs. Public bike-sharing systems are available on five continents, including 712 cities. The bike-share systems in China are the largest in the world, with around 90,000 bicycles.