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WE-cycle comes to Carbondale with a KDNK-style welcome

Hattison Rensberry
Annie Bricker and James Currie pose excitedly next to the WE-cycle station behind KDNK.

Starting in early August, Carbondale will have one more thing in common with Aspen, Basalt, and El Jebel: free public transportation via bike-share. Non-profit transit organization WE-cycle is finally ready to go in Carbondale. Reporter Hattison Rensberry spoke with WE-cycle’s James Currie and Annie Bricker about their upcoming launch event at KDNK.

Bricker: We're really excited to be inviting the community, and WE-cycle riders, and Carbondale residents to join us at KDNK. There will be live music by the band Sweet Jessup. There's gonna be drinks by Odell. Mama's Pierogi is gonna be here providing yummy food. Maybe we'll have some lawn games. There'll be a record sale.
The event will be from 6:00 to 8:00 PM and so we're really hoping that you can make KDNK a stop on your First Friday crawl.

Rensberry: And will all of the bikes that we cycle is rolling out be available that day? When do people get to start trying them out?

Currie: The bikes will go into all the stations throughout Carbondale. There are 17 stations, there'll be 80 bikes. KDNK is very lucky to have a 16 point station here. Uh, we will be running a valet so you don't have to worry about any overflow or anything, but grab a bike from the station nearest to you and bike it over here and we'll take care of it from there.

Rensberry: Is there a reason why you chose to do this launch on a First Friday?

Bricker: First Friday is a big Carbondale event, and we wanna show up and celebrate with the community and be a part of what makes this town special and what brings people out.

Rensberry: In general, you have a lot of technological involvement in how these bikes are wrangled and managed and how people can utilize them. What are some ways that people who want to use WE-cycle can prepare for the opening of We-cycle in Carbondale?

Bricker: Mm. The very first thing that I would recommend everyone does is sign up to ride WE-cycle. Now. Um, you can do that on our website, which is WE-cycle.org. It's a really quick signup process. We ask you for your name, your phone number, your email, and then also a credit card, um, which is only charged if you take trips longer than 30 minutes. But the signup process itself is free and then you'll be all ready to ride so that once you see bikes in stations, you can check one out. And get rolling right away. If you'd like to learn more, you can visit our website and read more about WE-cycle, and not only the Carbondale offering, but the full system offering. We have bikes and stations throughout the valley in Aspen and the Mid Valley and Snowmass Village, um, and now here on Carbondale. So if you'd like to learn more about what bike share is all about, um, and where else you can ride, And then just like their logistics of actually pulling out a bike, returning it to a station. The other thing I would encourage you to do is to check out the station map. If you go to our website, you'll see the locations of all the Carbondale stations, all 17 stations around town. So you can find the station that is closest to your house or closest to your point of work. We'll have one at the Carbondale Park and Ride so you can plan out all the different routes that you want to take once WE-cycle opens in Carbondale.

Rensberry: Out of curiosity, did you guys time how long it takes to get from one station across town to the other?

Bricker: We didn't time it, but I can tell you as someone who lives in the very south side of Carbondale and bikes myself, from my home to the Carbondale Park and Ride, which is the very north side of Carbondale, it takes about 10 minutes. So if you're on a WE-cycle bike, we imagine that will take you about 10 minutes to get from one side of town to the other, from our, for the separated stations. Um, and even faster on an e-bike. We have some people joke that we're separating the stations really far, but that's not true. We really want you to be able to very easily get from one station to another.

Rensberry: How many e-bikes are going to be available?

Currie: There will be 40 E-bikes and 40 pedal powered bikes.

Rensberry: Do you find that the e-bikes get more use than the pedal power bikes?

Bricker: Absolutely, yeah. Last year our fleet was 20% E-bike and 50% of our rides were on e-bikes. So they seem to be the rider favorite by far. So we've been adding more and more e-bikes over the course of the last year and years past.

Currie: Yeah, it gets a lot more people on bikes. Really makes the commute easier for a lot of people.

Bricker: My favorite thing about E-bikes is that you don't have to sweat at all. So if you're trying to bike around Carbondale in the middle of a summer day, you don't have to work as hard and it's, it feels better like showing up at a restaurant. I think the most important thing that we didn't emphasize enough already is that the first 30 minutes of every single WE-cycle ride is free. So you can check out a bike and as long as you ride it for under 30 minutes and return it to a station within 30 minutes, you won't have to pay anything. And that applies for every ride you take. So it's really meant to be short accessible, enjoyable transit around town that doesn't cost you a penny. After those 30 minutes, there are late fees that you can get. For the pedal bikes, it's 50 cents a minute, and for the E-bikes it's $5 a minute. So just keeping an eye on your timer while you're riding is very important.

Rensberry: And how old do you have to be to operate these?

Bricker: 14 years and up.

Rensberry: Anything else we're missing?

Currie: We're here to help. I think that if anybody has any questions, feel free to give us a call. We are happy to talk and help people get signed up, help people figure out where to go. If there's any issues with the bikes, can't find a station, we're here to help.

Bricker: And I guess the other thing that I would add is that sometimes it can be a little bit intimidating. You ride generally using your smartphone, either our website or the app transit. If you don't consider yourself a techie person and want some support in an option to ride without your smartphone, also reach out to us.
We have options. You can use a key card, which is kind of like a library card to check out a bike. Um, so we wanna work with you to get you on bike share and if your phone is gonna be a barrier or other things are gonna give you, give you pause and make you a little bit concerned or wary about signing up, do reach out to us, 'cause we'd love to help you out.

Rensberry: This is quite the endeavor. How did this all end up coming together and working out so that it's something you could bring to Carbondale?

Currie: Great question. So We-cycle has actually been open, this is our 11th year in Aspen. We've been open in the Mid Valley since 2016, Snowmass since 2020. And it has been a big undertaking by RFTA, the board of trustees, the town of Carbondale, to make this happen. We're very appreciative for everybody involved, the town staff, for helping make this happen day to day-to-day for RFTA for the continued support. Uh, and the continued financial support and for the Carbondale Board of Trustees for having the confidence that this is a good transportation option for the town. So very appreciative for everybody involved."

That was James Currie and Annie Bricker with WE-cycle, interviewed by KDNK reporter Hattison Rensberry. The launch event is at the KDNK station from 6-8pm on Friday, August 4th. More information is available at: we-cycle.org

Take a listen to the evening's musicians, Sweet Jessup and the Dirty Buckets,here or here!

By way of disclosure, WE-cycle provides underwriting support to KDNK.

Hattison Rensberry has a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design and Drawing, but has worked for newsrooms in various capacities since 2019.
She also provides Editorial Design for the Sopris Sun.