Should Vail continue e-bike program? | VailDaily.com
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Should Vail continue e-bike program?

By the numbers

$25,000: Cost of the 10-week pilot program.

12: E-bikes in the program.

2,062: miles ridden.

.61: Trips per bike per day.

 

Vail’s first attempt at an e-bike share program had start-up troubles. Town officials would like to see a regional approach to e-bike use for commuters.
Town of Vail photo

After a 10-week experiment with an e-bike sharing program, Vail officials are pondering their options, including the prospect of just subsidizing private purchases of commuter cycles.

Vail Environmental Sustainability Coordinator Beth Markham recently shared with the Vail Town Council the results of that 10-week program.

The idea, Markham said, was to see if e-bikes could provide a “micro-mobility” alternative to cars and buses.

The program, which cost $25,000, also charged users to ride the bikes. Users needed to download an app to reserve and pay for their rides.

While more than 300 people downloaded the app, only 189 people recorded at least one ride. Most recorded only one ride.

As with any pilot program, there were teething troubles.

Among those surveyed about their experience, 25% said they didn’t use the service because of difficulty checking out a bike. Other users said they weren’t able to unlock the bikes.

Councilmember Jen Mason said she was at first enthusiastic about the program. But, she added, she ultimately “couldn’t trust it to get into work.”

Still, more than 76% of users said they’d use the system again.

Looking ahead, councilmembers seemed more willing to continue to the program if it also included Eagle County and, perhaps the towns of Avon and Minturn.

“The regional solution is ideal,” Markham said, adding that the county and other towns were looking to Vail to get some good data on bike-share programs.

But the rides in Vail were expensive during the summer program. Councilmember Jenn Bruno, doing some quick math, noted that the program cost the town roughly $42 per ride.

“We need to find a solution that doesn’t cost $46 every time someone takes a bike out of a dock,” Bruno said.

Councilmember Travis Coggin noted that the per-ride cost for the e-bikes was more than the cost of him using his personal vehicles, which “gets terrible mileage,” he added.

Bruno said she might be more interested in subsidizing bike purchases.

Fellow Councilmember Kim Langmaid said she’d be willing to discuss a rebate program.

“Overall, it’s about creating a culture of biking,” Langmaid said.

Vail Environmental Director Kristen Bertuglia noted that Holy Cross Energy already offers a $250 rebate for e-bike purchases, adding that there are rebate models the town probably wouldn’t have to subsidize.


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