Denver Bike Sharing is the operating arm of the Denver B-Cycle system. The vision, according to their website, is to "change the culture of transportation in Denver by implementing a public bike sharing system...". Originally, the program was slated for launch last summer; then it was April 22, 2010 (Earth Day). The new target date is sometime this summer.
The idea grew out of the 1,000 free bikes provided by the Freewheelin program during the 2008 Democratic National Convention. The Freewheelin program was so popular with Democrats and their admirers, Mayor Hickenlooper included the Denver B-Cycle bike sharing program as a part of his Greenprint Initiative. A test program has been underway for city employees at the Wellington Webb building on Colfax involving 2 stations and thirty bicycles.
Denver Bike Sharing is working with private donors to get the first 500 bikes on the street and then the program will become self financing through a modest fee structure and corporate sponsorships. There will be 40 to 50 bike stations scattered around the city where commuters and recreational riders may check out and return bikes. Eventually, the program is to include 1,000 bicycles.
According to Parry Burnap of Denver Bike Sharing, in addition to not costing taxpayers much, the program would initially create 13 new jobs. Everyone should like that. Burnap was before the city's Public Amenities Committee this week seeking approval to work with the Parks and Recreation Department to make site changes in several Denver parks to accommodate bike stations and kiosks which are required to make the system work.
Burnap showed slides of artist's renderings to illustrate how the stations and kiosks will look in the parks.( Emphasis on the word "will"). If Denver Bicycle Sharing is serious about putting 500 bicycles and 50 kiosks out on the street for public benefit by summertime, then why are the operators only just now seeking permission to pour concrete in the parks for bike racks and kiosks?
Earlier in the week, city council was asked to grant encroachment permits to place kiosks and bike stations in thirteen downtown locations. These resolutions were referred to committee. No ground (or concrete) will be broken at these locations any time soon.
But if things aren't moving along as swiftly as planned, it might just be a good thing.
Alan Prendergast, writing in Westword this week suggests that "Concern about safe routes appears to be a major challenge in getting people to use the new bikeshare program." The article points out that "Advocates say there is a shortage of bike lanes and coherent surface street routes, as well as a largely unfulfilled master plan that needs to be revisited."
How about Halloween 2012 for a launch date? No sense in rushing things.