Denver's anxiously anticipated bike sharing program B-cycle made an Earth Day bow yesterday, with hundreds of cyclists taking a test ride around the Mile High City. The first large-scale bike-sharing program in the U.S. is the brainchild of Crispin Porter + Bogusky, whose chief creative insurgent Alex Bogusky first unveiled the bike prototype--a collaboration with Trek--at the 2009 SXSW conference.
The 400 B-cycle bikes are distributed among 40 "B-stations," mostly clustered around Denver's downtown area and toward the Cherry Creek neighborhood. Membership rates start at $20 for a weekly pass and cap at $65 for an annual pass. The first 30 minutes on any bike is free, and after that, an hourly rate kicks in that caps at $65 per day. Riders can use a credit card on the kiosk to check out a bike and return it to any station, or those who pre-register at the site can get a dedicated B-cycle card that allows for a quicker tap-and-go release. A Google Map on the site shows real-time results for how many bikes are docked at each station.
In another hefty boost for the city, health-care provider Kaiser Permanente has given $450,000 to fund B-cycle through its first three years, and will also provide evaluation and support for the program. This eliminates--or at least defers--the need for outdoor advertisers, which is how many other bike-sharing programs stay afloat. Now let's just hope the shiny new Trek bikes don't get vandalized or lost, as has been widely reported about Paris's Vélib program--a BBC story last year said that over half of the bikes in its system had been stolen.
B-station photo by Sarah Rich