Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Golden’s Community Bike-share

The town of Golden, British Columbia has shown the world that small towns can join the bike-sharing world without multimillion-dollar investments. Two years ago, the Golden Active Transportation Committee met with the intention of setting up a bike-share “that would work well with our community,” said Lisa Reinders, manager of leisure services in Golden. This past March 27th, their dream was realized. The two hubs are located at a campground and a hostel, where the staff of these businesses sign up users, sell swipe card passes, and keep the stations clean. In return, the businesses retain 75% of the rental fees they sell, while the other 25% goes to the Town of Golden, the operator. The rental fees are $10/day, $35/month, and $60/season, which runs from May to October.

A new user can sign a waiver at the campground or hostel, and after paying, can obtain a swipe card to check out a bike for up to 30 minutes at a time. The hubs, which are powered by solar panels, were purchased by the Town of Golden from Sandvault, a bike-share vendor. The cost of the stations, including 15 Kona bicycles and software maintenance, came to $37,500, or $2,500/bike. To finance this investment, Golden benefited from British Columbia’s Resort Municipality Initiative, where 13 resort communities receive a portion of the town's hotel room tax to invest in local projects. As the staff of the campground and hostel do most of the operational labor, the town of Golden only needs to offer two part time employees to provide oversight, maintenance, and occasional technical support for the program. The town plans to add 15 more bicycles and two more stations in a subsequent phase of the program. Golden's model provides an intriguing example for smaller towns that want to offer bike-sharing without undertaking large capital investments.

Image credit: Town of Golden

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