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.