Sunday, April 25, 2010
Denver B-cycle - from up close
This morning, my friends Tom and Amy and I used Denver's new B-cycle bikeshare bikes to do a little ride in the city. To use a bike, you join the program online. A year's membership is about $60, shorter ones are less. You sign up with a credit card or depending on the length of your membership, you are mailed a B-cycle card.
You swipe the card in the kiosk (35 presently in Denver, 15 more to come) and slide a bike out of the rack. If you ride it for 30 minutes or less, there's no charge. If you ride it longer, B-cycle will charge your card per hour or full day.
There are 500 identical red bikes. They're three-speeds with a grip-style shifter on the right grip. They have internal (hub) brakes, unfazed by rain; generator hubs; bells and big baskets (20lb capacity) in front with cable locks in them.
Supposedly, if you clip the end of the cable in the slot provided, the coiled cable will hold your coffee cup!
The seatposts are long and easy to adjust for height. They're marked - so you can set yours correctly in an instant after the first time you borrow a bike.
The handlebars are covered as is most of the chain, and there's a skirt-guard for heavensakes. The kickstand is two-legged and stable like a motorcycle centerstand. It's easy to put the bike up on it.
The B-cycles just glide along, silent and smooth. The three ratios seem ideally chosen, unlike old three-speeds of my experience. These bikes appear to be perfectly suited for their purpose - nothing about using them is scary or less then perfectly intuitive. They're cool.
Amy took the above photo of the dashingly handsome blogger.
As Tom says, these B-cycles aren't for those of us who have bikes or always want to ride our Cervelos. They're for folks who hadn't even imagined themselves on bikes. And for whom the experience of riding may be fun, empowering...and enlightening. Let's hope so anyway....
Added later: Here's a link to a James Huang Bikeradar.com article on Denver's new bikesharing program. It'll reflect a few of the comments I made but Huang will tell you about B-cycle in much greater depth. Worth reading!