“Mr. B-cycle” masters citywide bike-sharing program
December 9, 2011
By: Chase Squires
Kevin Lynch gave up a car, but not wheels.
Lynch, a lecturer at DU’s Sturm College of Law Environmental Law Clinic, doesn’t have a car. Instead, he commutes the six miles each way to and from work on a Denver B-cycle, those ubiquitous red bikes that users check out and check in with a membership.
And all that checking in and out has earned Lynch the unofficial title of “Mr. B-cycle,” as he winds up this year’s B-cycle season with 1,608 miles of total usage — tops on the organization’s official ridership list. The next closest person rode some 400 miles less than Lynch. The program goes into hibernation on Dec. 9.
“I moved here and I didn’t have a car,” Lynch says. “And after a while, I decided not to get one, I was so much happier without one.”
Although he originally had his own bike, Lynch says he emerged from a store one day to retrieve his bike and found someone had smashed it to bits. He heard about B-cycle and decided to give it a try.
The bikes take some getting used to, he says. They are heavier than regular bikes and the big baskets on the front — especially when full — add some elements to the steering. But riders get the hang of it quickly, Lynch says. The bikes are fully adjustable (even for Lynch, who stands 6-feet 6-inches) and have bells and lights on them.
The other challenge, of course, is completing trips in less than 30 minutes. The way the program works, riders purchase year-long memberships for $65 (other memberships, even daily, are available) and then swipe a card and check out a bike from any of the more than 50 stations around the city. The first 30 minutes are free. The next 30 minutes cost $1. After that, it’s $4 for every additional half hour. So the key is to take quick trips, check in the bike at another station, then check out a new bike when needed.
For Lynch, the ride from his home in Denver’s Five Points neighborhood to DU is just a bit more than 30 minutes. Lynch’s trick is to check in at a station about halfway to work, then check out and continue on.
And he’s learned to partner B-cycle rides with public transportation by using RTD’s Eco Pass, which is issued by DU to all students, faculty and staff. Lynch can ride a bus or the light rail part of the way to his destination then grab a bike to finish the trip.
Lynch says he had fun charting his progress on the B-cycle website and leading the pack in miles. But he doesn’t expect a reward, the whole idea was just to get where he’s going. And now that it’s winter, Lynch says he’s back on the light rail for the cold months.
“The bikes are great, but they’re best if you use them as part of the bigger system,” Lynch says. “It’s raining? I take the light rail. I’m wearing a suit for something? I take the light rail. It’s a nice day, I grab a bike and get some exercise.”
Mr. B-cycle's tips:
• Get used to carrying a helmet. B-Cycles don’t come with helmets. For safety’s sake, carry one with you when you ride.
• Think out your route in advance and know where you’ll check in your bike. Go online and scout B-Cycle stations in advance. The computer will let users know how many open ports are available.
• Don’t worry about special clothing. B-Cycles are built for comfort, and they have all the necessary guards to keep pant legs from getting caught in the chain.
• Be creative. Plan a place to check the bike in for a moment to avoid being charged for exceeding 30 minutes.
• Watch the weather. Riding in the rain is a bummer.