Bike share pedals into Boulder


A city that has more than 300 miles of bikeways is a cyclist’s dream. Now the bike-friendly city of Boulder has decided to create a bike-share program that gets people out of their cars and on the seat of a bike.

According to Marni Ratzel, bicycle/ pedestrian transportation planner for the city of Boulder, the bike-share program is different than bike rental, giving people the opportunity for shortterm use, while keeping the bike in circulation as much as possible. Two vendors, Gravity Cycles and Bcycle, responded to the city’s request for proposals.

But Waylon Lewis, editor of, wants to know why there has not been more input from Boulder residents.

“As one of many 365-day bike commuters in Boulder, this is a huge development for Boulder — and we should be acting like it,” he says. “If this is approved without extensive public comment — well, shame on us.”

Bike-sharing will only work if the community is interested in the program and wants to purchase memberships — users pay for an annual, monthly, weekly or daily membership and have unlimited access to the bikes. After 30 minutes of use, the member begins racking up additional charges. Ratzel says the point is to have the bikes available for those in need of making a short trip, keeping the bikes and people in motion.

“Ninety-two percent of bike rides are 22 minutes or less,” says Russell Altman, CEO/president of Gravity Cycles. “The city did a study that projects that for phase one of the Boulder bike-share program there will be 20 to 25 bike racks strategically located throughout the city, with an average of nine to 10 bikes per station, and [they will] have 30 to 40 percent open spots.”

“Bike share is marketable to people who not only live here, but also people who don’t live here but work here. People can offset their carbon footprint by riding the bus or driving here and biking while in town. It provides more flexibility for transportation and commuting,” says Ratzel.

It will also be an easy way for visitors to Boulder to get around.

The two vendors submitted their proposals and demonstrated how their systems could work in Boulder on June 14. Vendor selection will be made July 2, followed by contract negotiations.

Bcycle was founded by Humana, Trek Bicycles and Crispin Porter Bogusky.

Andrew Davison, chief marketing officer of Bcycle, says, “After benchmarking the best practices of bike-sharing, the focus is on normalizing the bike to be accessible and easy-to-use for people who want to ride a mile or two to grab groceries.”

The bike stations are made to fit each city’s needs, making the system adaptable to any landscape.

“The advanced software system allows the city to understand which bikes are being used and how they are being utilized,” says Davison. “Each member has their own ID tag that you put on the station’s reader, and the bike unlocks for you. Members have website profiles to track calories burned, offset of carbon footprint, routes of where you have traveled and more.”

The Trek bikes are durable, with a heavy carrying capacity, designed for all heights and built for safety.

“When it comes to advertising, we don’t want NASCAR bikes. Our companies want to say that these bikes are brought to you by them, being sponsors rather than advertisers,” says Davison.

“We are excited that if Boulder does pick us, we could have the first interoperable Bcycle route from Boulder to Denver,” says Davison. Denver Bcycle was implemented as Denver’s bikeshare program on April 22.

Officials from Gravity cycles, which is smaller than Bcycle, say their size allows them to not take on a lot of ads and to promote the local economy.

“Our approach is focused on what Boulder needs; we understand that Boulder wants to keep Boulder, Boulder. These are the reasons why you don’t see McDonalds on Pearl Street,” says Altman.

They say key problems in bikesharing are advertising focus models, insufficient research, vendor lock-in and being contingent on one bike program.

Altman says, “We are a vendorneutral company, not just an advertising company. We want to bring awareness of the best solution for future expansion of bike-sharing in Boulder.”

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