At a council meeting last week, Aspen City Council voted to delay signing a contract with the rideshare service, Lyft.
The agreement included an e-bike rental service, provided by Lyft that valley bike shops argued would cut into their profit. Lyft would charge 15 cents a minute for in-town service, undercutting many local bike shops rental fees who charge up to three times that. Public comment lasted two hours, most of the feedback was against the deal, including former bike shop owner Charlie Tarmer.
"Why on earth is the city in the bike business?" asked Tarmer.
The overwhelming majority of comments at the council meeting were opposed to signing the contract with Lyft. Criticism included a lack of public engagement and a clear way to terminate the contract.
The city’s Climate Action office argued that the SHIFT program would be a first and last mile rideshare. Most of the e-bike rentals from local shops are longer, recreational services.
Aspen Climate Action Manager Ashley Perl responded that the city could rewrite the contract to include a steep fee for people who use the bikes for more than half an hour, so it wouldn’t compete with recreational rentals.
Mayor Steve Skadron, who strongly supports this initiative, pointed out that the summer “SHIFT” experiment has a limited scope. Council agreed to renegotiate the Lyft contract, which could take months.