Elizabeth Train started with a turquoise tricycle. Then it was a yellow Schwinn with a banana seat and stars. Today, Train owns seven bikes and, as the director of community development for the fledgling Boulder B-cycle, she will soon help launch a fleet of bright red, high-tech bikes into the Boulder community. In the next few months, Boulder B-cycle will develop a system of bike stations throughout the community; residents, visitors and students will be able to buy a pass, take a bike, use it for a few minutes or a few hours, return it to any station and be on their way.
Bike sharing has been popular in Europe for years and just recently became visible in the U.S. B-cycle stations pimple metro Denver. It’s common to see groups tooling around town on the flashy velos. Train says Boulder B-cycle is helping to create a structure that coordinates the B-cycle stations with bus stops, businesses and popular spots, such as the Pearl Street Mall. The stations will be positioned in places where people need bikes the most.
Train is most proud that B-cycle has its roots in Colorado. During the Democratic National Convention, Boulder-based Bikes Belong Coalition, where Train worked at the time, created a bike-sharing program to help visitors and locals travel around the city and through the crowds. Not long after, Humana, Trek and local Crispin Porter + Bogusky joined forces to develop B-cycle; Denver was the first city with a system. Boulder-based Amadeus software, KIOSK Information Systems of Louisville and Gunbarrel’s Crispin Porter + Bogusky all had a hand in designing the technology behind the bikes. In May, Boulder B-cycle hopes to be up and running.
“We are bringing it back home,” Train says. “It’s really now come full circle.”
Boulder is the smallest community in the U.S. to implement a B-cycle system; as an independent nonprofit, the local outfit must raise the funds to execute the first phase of the B-cycle plan. Unlike the bigger cities, Boulder doesn’t have a huge corporate sponsor to bankroll the whole program. In March, the Google Community Grants Fund donated $25,000. Boulder B-cycle is also aiming to raise $1 million on top of getting a $250,000 federal grant.
“I’m most looking forward to the launch,” she said. “We are just full throttle. Anytime we find someone who contributes, anyone who gets it, who wants to participate, who wants to donate, that’s what excites me.”
Beyond money, there are small barriers to making B-cycle a success: namely awareness. Although Boulder is known for its bike friendliness, there are still those who will find bike sharing a new experience.
“If you get on a B-cycle, it will ignite a flame. They’ll go home and get their bikes fixed, and they’ll start riding again,” she said. “It’s like they say. It’s getting back on a bike.”
In Their Words:
On awareness: “We want to be up and running before Bike Week and before the Bolder Boulder,” Train said. That includes a lot of community awareness before the launch. “We want to align with every festival that’s fun and green in the area. We want to become a part of the fabric of the community, even before we launch. We want people to love us before the bikes hit the streets.”
Her Yeti 575 mountain bike.
“I love it,” she said. “It makes me feel like a rockstar.”
Bridging the gap: “One thing that a system like this can do is bring people into the culture. The people who are not acclimated in to it,” she said. “People or businesses who have nothing to do with bikes can get into it. They can sponsor us or get memberships for their employees. It bridges the gap.”
Biking inspiration: Train’s dad was a cyclist and he taught her to love bikes early. She’s been more of a mountain biker than anything. Still, at B-cycle and at the Bikes Belong Coalition, she’s also been an advocate for bikes of all kinds.
On connecting: “We are connecting to transit, so transportation will be easier: relieving parking congestion, helping commuters who are under time constrictions,” she said. “And it’s great for people who just want to get outside and get some fresh air.”