The bike-sharing program called WE-Cycle, in which people can rent some pedal power for short trips around Aspen, was successful in its first year of operation, the co-founder of the nonprofit said Tuesday.
But there are opportunities to expand WE-Cycle’s marketing to guests in Snowmass Village and downvalley residents, Mirte Mallory told the Pitkin County commissioners.
The program debuted in June and wrapped up for the year Nov. 3.
In that time, 2,161 different people from 17 countries took 10,035 rides and pedaled 23,804 miles, Mallory said. We-Cycle estimates that nearly 800 gallons of gasoline were saved, offsetting 15,949 pounds of carbon.
Funded by a federal grant, matching funds from the county and city of Aspen, private sponsorships and bike fees, the nonprofit ended 2013 with $146,000 in revenue and $144,000 in expenses, Mallory said.
“We broke even,” she said. “We are so thrilled. We ran a very tight ship ... and kept it lean and efficient.”
With more opportunities for sponsors and more use from Snowmass Village and downvalley, WE-Cycle could double the size of its operation in its second year, Mallory said.
At 13 solar-powered stations around Aspen were 100 three-speed, town cruiser bikes.
WE-Cycle sold passes that ranged from 24-hour use for $7 to $55 for a season pass. Passes allow users 30 minutes on a bike at a time before prohibitive fees, designed to dissuade people from keeping the bikes for long periods, are assessed.
The commissioners were generally quite pleased with the results, giving Mallory a round of applause at the end.
Commissioner Steve Child said he used the system so often that he stopped driving into town. On one occasion, he said he was able to rent a bike at Rio Grande Park and ride it Paepcke Park to catch a bus — all in two minutes.
“The convenience of that was really neat,” he said.
Commissioner George Newman suggested that there are more opportunities for marketing by placing brochures at the front desks or in the rooms of hotels and property management companies.
Commissioner Rachel Richards said Mallory should join the Aspen Chamber Resort Association’s marketing efforts, noting that ACRA is likely already putting together material for summer 2014.
In response to a question from Commissioner Rob Ittner on whether WE-Cycle will be sustainable, Mallory said, “Enthusiastically, yes.”
Newman said another benefit of the successful launch is that other communities will be more willing to try bike sharing out.
“Why don’t we have WE-ski,” he quipped.