Transportation Progress – It’s a phrase that I associate with bicycle-ridership. A community that has a population with a lot of their butts on bicycle seats usually corresponds to efficient and successful transportation planning. Cycling isn’t just for transportation; it’s good for the body and the environment, too. A 20 minute commute to work provides a functional aerobic workout (it makes your butt look great as well). Current private automobile use in the U.S. depends on large quantities of non-renewable energy and causes heavy road congestion. The increasing fossil fuel costs, health and fatality risks, and environmental protection concerns are causing more and more people to consider bicycles as a form of transportation. It’s becoming easier to consider making the switch from an automobile to a bike here in the U.S. Many cities across the nation are making it so community members and tourists alike don’t even have to own a bicycle to commute by bike. It’s called bike sharing, and it’s taking the U.S. by storm (finally! – advanced IT systems have been in Europe for over a decade)
In Boulder, they have Boulder B-cycle. Boulder B-cycle is a community nonprofit formed to implement and operate a bike-share system in our fair town. Together with our partners at the City of Boulder, we’re working hard to create a transportation solution that’s clean, green, healthy, sustainable—and lots of fun! To learn more about our little nonprofit and all the great sponsors, partners and initiatives behind Boulder’s grassroots bike-share program, read our What is Boulder B-cycle Fact Sheet or browse our 2018 Annual Report.
If the word bike-share is new to you, and you would prefer a quick video instead of reading, watch the video below to see how it all works. B-cycle functions in 18 progressive cities. Boulder has 22 stations with 150 bikes and counting. There will be a grant-funded expansion of around 15 stations and 100+ bikes starting early next year. Boulder isn’t the largest operation but it is the heart of the B-cycle entity. It’s a program catered to tourists with no usage fees until 1 hour; much better compared to a 30 minute limit in many European models.
Experience on the Bike
Boulder’s Transportation Master Plan (TMP) has been gearing towards cycling for decades. “Boulder bikes at 20 times the national average,” according to bouldercolorado.gov. I needed to see how Boulder B-cycle crawled around in this cement jungle of Boulder’s bicycle infrastructure. I had a quick chat Kevin Bell, the marketing and communications manager at Boulder B-cycle; I learned a few things about the program and what to expect when I finally hopped on one of the red cruisers. The B-cycle android app was loaded onto my phone, I made sure my credit card was in my wallet, and off I went to the station nearest my location. I swiped my card and checked out a bike from the kiosk in a shockingly short period of time. The whole process took less than 30 seconds between walking up to the computer screen on the kiosk and riding bike.
Each bike has three gears, two hand brake levers, a lock, and a basket in the front. The lock was a little tricky to operate, but other than that, the whole experience was much easier and convenient than I ever could have imagined. I ended up riding it downtown – it was an awesome idea because normally parking downtown is a nightmare, but you don’t have to worry about parking with B-cycle. These bikes made travelling and shopping around downtown nothing short of wonderfully convenient and fast. However, as Kevin told me, “there is a catch 22 here, we want more people to ride, to do that, we need more stations…to get more stations, we need more people to ride.” Once I left the downtown area, I realized what he was talking about. The stations were far and few between. So come on Boulder! Get out there and start riding these bikes! Let’s be Progressive!