Shift e-bikes to return this spring with more bikes in more communities
The 2023 program could bring around 155 e-bikes from Vail to Edwards starting in May
The Shift regional e-bike program is returning to Eagle County this summer, with more bikes, more stations and more communities participating.
The program initially launched in June 2022 with 90 bikes parked at 20 stations throughout Avon, EagleVail and Vail. Running from June 7 through Oct. 31, 7,393 trips were taken for a total of 21,735.4 miles.
As suggested in the name, the program was intended to encourage residents and visitors to “shift” to using bikes over cars for certain trips within the connected region. Officials reported that these rides led to a reduction of 8.68 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent of 1,000 gallons of gasoline.
The program was created with the vendor Drop Mobility, which has created similar local bike-share systems in communities across the country. Drop provides the hardware and software required to build out the system.
With this initial success in mind, the partner communities decided to continue the program in 2023 with additional participation from the Edwards Metro District and the Eagle County government. Dependent on the weather, the program is expected to launch in mid-May and run through the end of October.
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The 2023 proposal from Drop Mobility includes 155 e-bikes stationed at 33 stations in partner communities. The proposed distribution of these e-bikes is as follows:
- Vail: 81 e-bikes at 16 stations
- Avon: 35 e-bikes at 9 stations
- Edwards: 25 e-bikes at 5 stations
- EagleVail: 14 e-bikes at 3 stations
The proposal estimates that in 2023, the program will result in 27,000 rides, with an estimated $3 of revenue created per ride.
The total cost of this system is $428,150 with the municipalities splitting costs at a prorated amount based on their split of the e-bikes. With the split as proposed, Vail would pay the biggest split with $223,743 followed by Avon with $96,679, Edwards with $69,056 and EagleVail with $38,672.
The cost goes not only toward the deployment and hardware for the e-bike system but also software fees, marketing, offseason storage in Eagle, as well as local operations including maintenance, charging, customer service and more.
While the 2022 program represented somewhat of a pilot with Drop Mobility, the partner communities are intending to work with the company for the next three years, “pending annual appropriations,” according to a town of Vail memo. Drop Mobility, in its 2023 proposal, said this would allow the company to “plan for a long-term and self-sustaining system.”
“We believe in a phase-approach to scaling up a system and once ridership goals are achieved, the system can be expanded. Furthermore, the hubs can be scaled up and down and easily repositioned as communities’ needs change,” reads the proposal.
In the future, this expansion could also include more partner communities, including Minturn. The town was approached to join in the upcoming season, however, it is reportedly opting to wait until construction of the Eagle Valley Trail is complete, which is targeted for 2024.
With more stations in each of the communities that participated last year, the exact location of the new stations is still yet to be determined. However, Vail anticipates that its new stations will be at Timber Ridge, near Middle Creek and the Residences at Main Vail, the Glacier Court bus stop, and at the top of Buffehr Creek.
In 2022, the e-bikes could be rented on a pay-as-you-go rate, with the first ride free. The rate was $3 to unlock the bike and ride for 30 minutes, with each additional minute costing 40 cents. There were also memberships available for locals. The pricing for 2023 has yet to be determined.
While the program is intended to create a more climate-friendly mobility option, it also seeks to ensure limited impacts to local bike shops that rent e-bikes. For the 2023 program, this will include outreach and education with local shops to “inform users of the differences between e-bike share programs (commuting, shorter rides) and e-bike rental programs (longer excursions, multi-day usage, recreation, etc.).
Plus, according to the proposal, Drop Mobility is intending to approach these local bike shops about partnering on maintenance for the e-bike fleet.
While the bikes can be ridden around the region, they must be returned to one of the stations in Avon, EagleVail, Edwards and Vail. The bikes themselves can reach up to 16 miles per hour and have an electric charge that lasts between 30 and 40 miles depending on a number of factors.
More details, including the exact locations of the stations, pricing and launch date, will come in the coming months as the snow melts and biking weather approaches.