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WE-cycle up and running in the midvalley

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Elise Thatcher
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  Eighty WE-cycle bikes are now at stations across Basalt and Willits. The Aspen-based bike sharing program rolled out the expansion over the past week.

 

Dan Perl and a co-worker are lining up bikes on Midland Avenue in downtown Basalt.

“We just fired up our satellite station,” said Perl between tasks. “[We] plugged in some bikes and now we’re going to do some testing to make sure we can check them out.”

This is one of 23 stations selectively placed in Basalt and Willits. The point is make it easier for residents and visitors to get to Bus Rapid Transit stations, and then use the high speed bus service operated by the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority.

“In Aspen, [at the bike stations] we have this large kiosk with a big screen, credit card reader and a large solar panel,” Perl explained. “But we decided that for down here in Basalt — and these neighborhood communities — we needed a station that was smaller, lower profile.”

The mechanism to release one of the bikes here isn’t working properly, so Perl heads off to the main office to get that fixed. It’s a problem that popped up at several stations and prompted WE-cycle to delay the official opening until this past weekend. All of the stations in Basalt and Willits are expected to be fully up and running by Monday.

A short ways away, John Fukon has stopped by another small WE-cycle station, at the intersection of Midland Avenue and Two Rivers Road. He’s testing out his membership card and his bike pops out of the dock quickly.

“I just wanted to get the card working, and it was really pretty easy,” he reported.

Fukon uses WE-cycle regularly in Aspen. He lives in Basalt and is very excited to have the service where he lives.

“I plan on using it a lot, maybe taking it to the bus stop and back,” he said. “I take the bus to work.”

Nationwide, the biggest bike-share users are 30- to 40-year-old white men. In Aspen, there’s a few more women than men using the service.

But WE-cycle wants to change that in Basalt and Willits. The nonprofit is working with the Carbondale-based Valley Settlement Project and won a $40,000 grant through the Better Bike Share Partnership to reach more Latino folks. WE-cycle has hired new staff to help carry that out in the coming months.

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