Bikes + Buses = Positive Impact
Bikes and buses share more than a first letter. They can both get you from A to B and they are both an integral part of our valley’s vitality. However, what they share the most is that they are stronger together. Bikes and buses are a dynamic transportation duo and so are RFTA and WE-cycle. Ride a WE-cycle for you short, in and around town trips and then hop on RFTA for your long trips. This seamlessly integrated bike and bus network connects and unifies the Roaring Fork Valley with a reliable, safe, and car-free way of getting around our communities. And…there is more to come!
When WE-cycle was founded, in 2013, bikeshare was a novel concept for addressing first- and last-mile connectivity. RFTA, in its wisdom and future-oriented approach, became WE-cycle’s first Founding Partner. In doing so, they inspired other leading businesses and organizations to join a movement of two-wheeled solutions to improve our air quality, traffic congestion, and parking challenges.
Today, this WE-cycle bikeshare movement has grown to 284 bikes at 54 bikeshare stations in three towns and two counties and riders have taken over 360,000 trips. According to national studies, approximately 40% of all personal trips are two miles or less in length, the ideal distance for a WE-cycle ride, or an e-WE-cycle trip. RFTA is committed to serving its constituents with transportation offerings for these short trips and believes that they can best be addressed by the development of first- and last-mile mobility strategies, such as bikesharing. To activate this approach, RFTA is investing in first- and last-mile offerings and in WE-cycle.
As of 2022, RFTA will now be the primary funder of WE-cycle and thereby the Roaring Fork Valley’s bikeshare services. WE-cycle, a not-for-profit organization, has entered into a public-private partnership with RFTA and participating local jurisdictions to enhance, expand, and sustain bikeshare throughout the valley. Per the agreement, local jurisdictions will also invest in their bikeshare services and WE-cycle is expected to secure private funding to help support the long-term viability and sustainability of the region’s bikesharing network. Mirte Mallory, WE-cycle’s Executive Director, co-founded WE-cycle over a decade ago with the vision of eventually providing regional bikeshare connectivity. Mirte underscores that “this is truly a watershed moment for WE-cycle! Thanks to RFTA’s investment and partnership, WE-cycle will be able to magnify its impact and build upon, and accelerate, a movement which for our funders, team, and riders have propelled into motion.”
WE-cycle will continue to lead the valley’s bikeshare movement including system planning and operations. Expansion will be guided by the recently adopted Roaring Fork Valley Regional Bikeshare Plan. The plan recommends system sizes and phasing, see the timeline below, and outlines a governance structure and financial model. WE-cycle will work closely with RFTA and participating jurisdictions in designing bikeshare systems that respond to the transportation needs and values of each community.
RFTA is funding its bikeshare investments from multiple sources but primarily from the 2018 voter-approved Ballot Issue 7A which levied a 2.65 mill property tax within the eight jurisdictions that are members of RFTA. The RFTA property tax is expected to generate approximately $10 million in annual revenue, designated for all the Destination 2040 program of operational and capital improvements, of which bikeshare is a part. Additionally, in 2021, RFTA established a First/Last Mile Mobility Reserve which allows member jurisdictions to apply for funds to help implement first- and last-mile mobility solutions, including bikeshare.
Dan Blankenship, RFTA’s CEO, is excited about this environmentally friendly initiative and investment, “RFTA believes that in order for bikeshare to realize its full potential to build ridership, and reduce traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions, gaps in the regional bikeshare system must be filled.”
WE-cycle is poised to begin filling these missing connections. If all goes as planned, in the spring/summer of 2023, WE-cycle will expand service in the Aspen System to the Burlingame neighborhood, to Blue Lake in the Mid-Valley System, and launch bikeshare in the Town of Carbondale. Herein lies the possibility of our collective impact: together, we can replace roundtrip car commutes from Carbondale to Aspen with a bike -> bus -> bike -> bus -> bike.
Together, let’s roll!