The other day I tried out the new We-cycle. I like the concept and the people behind it, and I love the bikes. After trying it out for myself and seeing what all the fuss was about, I’m a believer. I think it’s going to be a success. It shows the people who come to Aspen that we are a progressive town. It sends a positive message that we are thinking out of the box, and that we are a bike friendly town. I came away from my first We-cycle experience with a good feeling.
The reason why I think the program is going to be an Aspen institution is that when it was first announced, there was a group of Aspenites that I like to call the “oral minority” who come out publicly opposing it and everything about it. The idea, the cost, the validity, the need or lack thereof, and the actual harm it was going to cause were all the basic reasons to crap all over the program before inception.
It was coincidentally the same group of people who hate everything from employee housing to plastic bag fees to public transportation. It was the same crowd who rail against public government and our hardworking elected officials. One thing I’ve learned is that when this group opposes something it means it’s going succeed. Aspen is a ski town first, and a bike town a close second.
I started my We-cycle tour de Aspen at the base of Smuggler station and found it was easy to figure out — even for me. That’s saying a lot for someone who has the technological aptitude of an un-frozen caveman. I have one of the We-cycle passes that you simply insert into the slot and pull the bike right out. My objective for the day was to ride a We-cycle to and from every terminal in Aspen.
The bikes themselves are well designed. They are sturdy, smooth and reliable; the frame tubing is so over-built that they make Cannondale look like Colnago. I like the fact that a real estate firm is sponsoring all the bikes with signage, but as an empathetic columnist I just won’t be happy until each bike has the actual realtor’s face on it. There are a few interesting sayings written on some of the chainstays of the bikes — the one I had said something about Elvis riding the Rockies.
Right as I rode away from the We-cycle station at the base of Smuggler, some naturalists were jokingly encouraging me to take it up to the platform. Can you imagine? Certified naturalists? The nerve. As much as I wanted to bag the first ascent of Smuggler on a We-cycle, I went with my innate sense of better judgment and rode towards the Clark’s Market station to run a quick errand.
The bikes handle surprisingly well, and the Shimano 3-speed grip shift is smooth and consistent. I did manage to pop a wheelie and ride it for a couple of pedal strokes until the front wheel came down with such force it actually bounced. Like I said, these things are built like brick outhouses.
It was surprisingly liberating going from station to station on my We-cycle bike. I was able to see parts of the town and notice things I hadn’t seen in years — all from the seat of a bicycle. I felt like I got to know the town a little better.
There is a definite buzz around Aspen about the We-cycle program. All of the feedback I got from people was upbeat.
After a couple of relaxing hours running errands, paying visits and generally enjoying summertime in Aspen courtesy of the many bike paths and dedicated bike lanes, I had hit all of the We-cycle portals in a giant loop and was back at the base of Smuggler.
I would strongly encourage folks to try out the We-cycle program and see how it works. The possibilities are seemingly endless in terms of using the bikes in conjunction with public parking, public transportation and the Car To Go program. You have to try it, though, to get the creative juices flowing.
Not only does the We-cycle bike sharing program send a good message to those who come and visit us in Aspen, whether it is for work or play, it also serves as a humble reminder to some of those who live here that may have lost sight of the dream that brought us here and kept us here in the first place.
To reach Lorenzo, email him at email@example.com.