Breckenridge to implement pilot e-bike program in 2023
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the number of bikes and hubs in the program.
The town of Breckenridge is planning to launch an electric bike share pilot program next spring.
In January, some Town Council members were not on board with the original pitch, citing concerns with how it could affect bike rental businesses, if the money would be better invested in Free Ride and whether or not it would be popular with locals. However, at Tuesday’s meeting, mobility staff presented an updated version that addressed these concerns.
“We’re here now with a specific and strategic pilot that we believe has addressed many of the concerns we’ve heard,” assistant mobility director Matt Hulsey said. “For example, the first concern on impacting bike rental shops rental revenue is addressed in two ways — both by the pricing structure disincentivizing anyone from riding for more than 30 minutes, and the bikes being geofenced in a zone that we can just determine that won’t allow the bikes be ridden outside of a specific area.”
The adjusted proposal would include 12 hubs and 60 e-bikes, and the pilot program is set to begin May 23, 2023, and continue through Oct. 31, 2023. Users can only start or end an e-bike share session at designated hub locations that will be placed near workforce neighborhoods and the areas they may travel to frequently, such as the Transit Center or City Market, to focus on locals-first usage.
The pilot program will offer hub locations near to or within Wellington/Lincoln Park, Breck Terrace, Valley Brook, Blue 52, Denison Commons, Moose Landing, French Creek neighborhood, Vista Point, Gibson Heights and Alta Verde.
The e-bikes will have a two-tiered pricing structure. Tier One allows community members to ride free or at a significantly reduced rate throughout the pilot program for the first 30 minutes, then pay per minute thereafter. For Tier Two, the general public can ride for 30 minutes at $10, then $5 per minute thereafter, or $160 for 60 minutes.
In 2021, the town was awarded a grant from the Colorado Department of Transportation’s multimodal options fund for $420,000 for a feasibility study and subsequent implementation of an e-bike share system. With the approval, town staff will use $80,000 to $125,000 of the grant funds along with a matching amount from town funds to begin the pilot program.
Maintenance for the e-bikes will be handled by the company awarded the bid from the town. If a rider were to finish a ride and the nearest dock was full, the app would either direct them to the nearest dock or someone from the company would locate the bike and dock it, Hulsey said.
“(Tuesday’s) decision for a focused pilot e-bike share program can reduce traffic congestion in record by almost 6,400 car trips, additionally reducing almost 11,000 pounds of (carbon dioxide) emissions,” Hulsey said.
A lot of the town’s messaging is focused around “more boots and bikes, less cars,” and council members agreed that this could be a way of achieving that. Council member Todd Rankin said that branding the bikes to fit into the town’s brand could be an option since the original pitch had bikes that looked like “an eyesore.”
“I think it’s good that it’s community members because while it’s great to give stuff to the workforce, we want people out of their cars. That’s what this is about,” Mayor Eric Mamula said. “This is not a perk for anybody. This is ‘don’t drive.’ So the more people that live here that will use this, the more this makes sense. I think we limit that, that’s not the way to go. So I support it — believe it or not.”
In 2019, Summit County approved the use of Class 1 e-bikes — or e-bikes without a throttle to increase speed without the need for pedals — on the county rec path network, and they are also allowed on roads and trails open to motorized use. However, the county does not allow them on natural surface trails.
This year, the U.S. Forest Service updated its guidance on how e-bikes can be used on its land. Currently, the agency allows e-bikes on all Forest Service roads that can be accessed by motorized vehicles, along with 60,000 miles of motorized trails, which make up 38% of all trails the agency manages. The updated guidance allows e-bikes to continue to operate on all authorized roads and trails, and it highlights a process to evaluate future requests for expanded access on trails that are not currently authorized for motorized travel.
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