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(COVID19) B-cycle Pass Updates // March 23, 2020 

 


We have been thinking about what we can do for our Boulder community in these challenging times. After much discussion, we have decided to offer deals on some of our already high-value pass prices and extend the trip period of our People's Pedaler and Republic Rider passes by 30 minutes. We feel this extended trip period will give you plenty of time to take that long cruise in the warm sun, offering a healthy break from those working at home. Biking is considered a 'safe-distance' activity you can feel good about participating in, while also helping your local non-profit bike share organization.

These updates are designed to be helpful and generous to our local community. We are doing our part to help keep our riders safe and healthy with the following protocols:  Our technicians will continue to disinfect all user touch points at the stations and on the bikes, including:  Bike handlebars, brake levers, seat & seat post clamp, touchscreens, dock buttons and RFID readers. There are simple steps you can take to protect yourself when using bike share: Download and use the BCycle App to check out a bike, wear gloves as a precaution during set up and riding a bike, wipe down the bike as you would any public surface you come in contact with, use hand sanitizer or wash your hands before and after riding. If we are all doing our part we can slow the spread and get back to it! 


The below pass adjustments are to better serve both those who need an inexpensive way to get around, as well as people who may want to use biking as a way to recreate. These changes will be in effect until we announce the switch back to our regular plans. 

  • Casual Cruiser (pay-per-trip): $1 for the first 30 minutes (down from $2), still free to register the pass. 

    • We are a mission-oriented nonprofit bike-sharing system and want to make this transportation mode absolutely as affordable as possible, especially for those hit hardest economically.

  • Day Tripper (24 hour): no change

  • People’s Pedaler (monthly): 60-minute free trip period (up from 30 minutes), still $11/month with no commitment.

    • We want to make this pass type an even better value, hopefully inspiring locals to give bike sharing a try for recreation and errands.

  • Republic Rider (annual): 90-minute free trip period (up from 60 minutes), still $88/year.

    • We’re extending the free trip period of this popular pass to give more time for locals and corporate members to get out for fresh air, providing plenty of time to ride and run errands away from centrally-located system stations.

  • CU Boulder Student: no change for now


No need for you to do anything special to enjoy all these added perks - just purchase your pass of choice and cruise away!


Thank you for supporting your local non-profit bike share system. We wish all of you good health and happiness!


Interested in sponsoring Boulder B-cycle or acquiring a corporate membership?  Simply contact: Sara Michaels, Boulder Bike Sharing Marketing, Communications, and Sponsorship Manager, sara@boulderbcycle.org


Thanks and Keep on Spinning!







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Boulder Bike Sharing On Track // February 24, 2020 

 


After several rounds of media coverage and many meetings later, Boulder Bike Sharing is on track and grateful to announce that the City of Boulder, CU Environmental Center and Boulder County have all pitched in to help support our organization through 2020.

That said, membership and rider revenues still remain a very important part of the organization’s funding, as well as the generous support of corporate sponsorships.

Currently, our team is hard at work on the Boulder Bike Sharing strategic planning process, which will solicit input from stake holders, identify funding sources and plan for the successful future of micromobility here in Boulder.

Thank you for being on this ride with us! We are excited for what is yet to come...stay tuned!


Interested in sponsoring Boulder B-cycle or acquiring a corporate membership?  Simply contact: Sara Michaels, Boulder Bike Sharing Marketing, Communications, and Sponsorship Manager, sara@boulderbcycle.org


Thanks and Keep on Spinning!






B-cycling on the new Arapahoe underpass!!


Boulder Bike Sharing Funding News // January 27, 2020 

 


As you may have read recently, Boulder City Council is studying funding options for our organization, the nonprofit operator of the city’s bike-sharing system. A City Council study session will take place tomorrow night (Tuesday, 28 January 2020). 


Boulder Bike Sharing is a mission-driven local nonprofit started and run by Boulderites invested in the community’s values of sustainability, safety, and innovation. When the City of Boulder issued a request for proposals in 2010 to operate a local bike sharing system, Boulder Bike’s Sharing plan was selected, and in May 2011 the Boulder B-cycle system launched. At that time it was among the first dock-based bike-sharing systems in the US, and since then it has expanded to 300 bikes at 45 stations, providing over 100,000 trips each year since 2017. While membership and rider revenues are an important part of the organization’s funding, we have and continue to rely on generous support in the form of corporate sponsorships and City operating contributions.


These funding sources have sustained the Boulder B-cycle system for nearly a decade, during which time we’ve become a trusted transportation option for riders and a partner to many of the city’s most prominent institutions, including the City of Boulder, CU, Boulder County, UCAR, Google, and Naropa. Years of demonstrated experience and responsible stewardship of public space are not to be overlooked in the highly-volatile micromobility industry. In 2020, as Boulder Bike Sharing undergoes a thorough strategic planning process, we believe that our invested staff, micromobility industry knowledge and connections, and membership in forward-thinking organizations like the North American Bike Sharing Association demonstrate our nonprofit’s proven ability to offer dependable, high-quality service while planning for the successful future of micromobility in Boulder.


While new devices continue to proliferate, we’re working hard to make sure that the red Boulder B-cycle bikes in service continue the record-setting use that we saw in the last third of 2019. Even though the average Boulder B-cycle trip is less than two miles, the average bike in our fleet is (by mileage) well into its second trip across the US! This simply wouldn’t be possible without our riders, so we’ll leave you with a few key findings from our most recent rider survey: Nearly half of survey respondents say they use the red bikes to connect to public transportation, almost a quarter of them reported household income under $35k, and 30% do not own a personal vehicle.


The Boulder B-cycle team is thrilled that we've been able to make such a significant impact in Boulder due to the sustained support of our riders and partners, and we look forward to keeping our own Boulder version of bike sharing riding strong!



Interested in sponsoring Boulder B-cycle or acquiring a corporate membership?  Simply contact: Sara Michaels, Boulder Bike Sharing Marketing, Communications, and Sponsorship Manager,
sara@boulderbcycle.org


Thanks and Keep on Spinning!






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Boulder Bike Sharing Overview // November 21, 2019 

(In Light of Denver B-cycle’s January 2020 Closure)

 

Not everyone knows this, yet we feel it is an important fact to share: Boulder Bike Sharing is the independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that owns and operates the Boulder B-cycle system. Our organization is a separate entity from Denver Bike Sharing (nonprofit owner and operator of the Denver B-cycle system), the City of Boulder, and BCycle LLC/Trek of Wisconsin.

In light of the Nov. 21st news that the Denver B-cycle system will be closing in January of 2020, we thought it would be important to clarify what separates us from them and also our status as Boulder’s one and only micromobility transportation option. So here are some more clarifying facts you may/may not know:


  • The Boulder B-cycle system launched in May 2011 and has seen increasing system use each consecutive year since then, with over 100,000 trips and ~15K riders per year since 2017.  

  • Our system has 45 stations and 300 bikes, which is comparatively large and dense for a city of Boulder’s size and population.

  • Records for monthly system use were set in both September and October 2019, helped by the new CU Boulder Student pass, which was launched this fall in partnership with the CU Environmental Center and has introduced more than 1,500 first-time student members to bike sharing.

  • Several new micromobility technologies, including dockless bikes, e-bikes, e-scooters, and electric mopeds have emerged since our system launched in 2011. Though these new and progressive options are exciting and novel, station-based bike-sharing is still presently the model of choice in many US cities, providing predictability and reliability that some free-floating systems do not.


All said, Boulder Bike Sharing actively provides a 24/7 bike share system in earnest and intends to continue operating the Boulder B-cycle system for the foreseeable future while actively investigating new equipment options that could someday best serve the city of Boulder.

Any questions or concerns please contact: Sara Michaels, Boulder Bike Sharing Marketing, Communications, and Sponsorship Manager, sara@boulderbcycle.org.

 

Thanks and Keep on Spinning!


Spring 2019 Station Shift !!

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What is Spring 2019 Station Shift, You Ask?

 

We’re writing with some exciting news as we pursue our mission to operate a valuable, sustainable bike-sharing system here in Boulder. As Boulder B-cycle turns eight this spring (May 20!), we’re able to look back and see that the system’s use has increased every year since its launch in 2011, and with each year a pattern becomes clearer: the most-used stations are in higher-density parts of Boulder where connections to commerce and transit abound.

We’re always striving to make the system more useful and efficient, and this year we’ll be seeking to launch new stations in promising locations around town. As we’ve done in the past, we’ll be relocating some of the system’s least-used stations to make this happen.  While we understand that this may inconvenience some riders, we're confident that the station relocations will offer more bikes in high-traffic areas.

We plan to begin removing the following stations this spring 2019:

  • Gunbarrel North

  • Table Mesa Park’n’Ride

  • 30th & Diagonal Highway

  • Broadway & Iris

  • North Boulder Recreation Center

Work to remove the first two stations on the list above may start as soon as this month (April), and we’ve also notified anyone who has used these stations in the last year so that they know of these upcoming changes.

As always, feel free to reach out with any questions. This work will all be completed by the end of 2019.

Happy Riding!


The B-cycle Team
info@boulderbcycle.org

 




  • Rider Alert: Two New Stations!

    by Kevin Bell | Apr 23,2018
    Great news, riders: We've got two new permanent station locations up and running for you to use! Here's what's up:

    33rd & Walnut

    33rd & Walnut B-cycle Station

    The installation of this station was generously funded by Google in support of their corporate membership program. The station is located in a slightly unorthodox location: on the northeast corner of 33rd & Walnut, behind the building at 3333 Walnut. With close proximity to awesome destinations like Twisted Pine and Sanitas Brewing, this station is sure to be a popular one for everybody!

    Center for Community @ Regent

    Center For Community CU B-station

    Formerly our temporary Conference on World Affairs station, this solar-powered station sits just off Regent Drive, east of the Center for Community on CU's campus. A huge thanks to everyone at CU who helped make this station happen!

    Standard note: if we haven't yet installed a station where you'd like to see one, it comes down to a combination of three factors: funding, permission, and density. These locations were installed because we had all three!

    Happy riding!
    -The Boulder B-cycle Team

  • A Temporary Station and Free Passes for Conference on World Affairs Week!

    by Kevin Bell | Apr 09,2018
    One of Boulder's favorite events, the Conference on World Affairs, starts now! We've teamed up with them to offer free passes, plus something we've never done before: a temporary station location! Check out everything you need to know below:

    A complete schedule of free events:

    In case you didn't know, the Conference on World Affairs is free to attend for the community! Guest speakers include Olympic gold medalist and author Aly Raisman, co-founder of RethinkX Tony Seba, and MSNBC nuclear security analyst Joe Cirincione. Don't miss out! View the full schedule here.


    Free Day Tripper passes

    for all attendees!

    Getting to and around CU during the CWA can be a hassle. That's why we've teamed up to provide free Day Tripper passes for all attendees during the conference: 4/9—13! If you know someone who's never B-cycled, or just if your current pass has lapsed, this is the perfect opportunity to ride. Learn how to ride free here!


    Plus: Our first ever temporary station

    at Macky Auditorium!

    That's right! To make getting around during the CWA even easier, we'll be setting up an 11-dock station just east of Macky on the northeast corner of Pleasant Street and Macky Drive for the duration of the conference (4/9—13). A huge thanks to the Conference of World Affairs folks and everyone at CU for making this happen.

    And of course, this station will end up in its permanent home following the conference. Location to be announced!

    Happy riding!

    -The Boulder B-cycle Team
  • 2-for-1 Valentine's Day Flash Sale!

    by Kevin Bell | Feb 14,2018
    2 for 1 republic rider passes

    Still looking for that perfect last-minute Valentine's Day gift? Today only, we're offering 2-for-1 on all full-price Republic Rider passes—new and renewing!

    Here's how it works:
    1. Before the end of the day today, 2/14, Purchase your new Republic Rider pass online or log into your account to renew your existing pass.
    2. Send us an email letting us know you made your $88 purchase or renewal and would like to redeem the 2-for-1 offer.
    3. We'll send you a promo code to redeem your second pass for free!

    Your second pass can be given as a gift or used to add an additional 12 months onto your existing Republic Rider pass.

    If you're on a tight gift deadline, you can download a gift certificate here to print out and give to that special someone.

    Please note: This offer is only valid for full-price pass purchases and cannot be combined with any other discounts.

  • 2017 System Improvement Survey Wrap-Up

    by Kevin Bell | Jan 08,2018

    Once again, thank you so much to everyone who took the time to complete our 2017 System Improvement Survey! 2017 was our biggest year ever, as riders broke 100,000 trips for the first time.

    As Boulder Bike Sharing, we’re proud to be the local 501(c)(3) nonprofit that runs the Boulder B-cycle program. We buy our bikes and software from BCycle LLC, a subsidiary of Trek Bikes, in Waterloo, Wisconsin. For that reason, there’s a limit to what improvements we’re able to make, particularly in the short term. Generally, improvements take the form of changing our bike and station maintenance activities, adjusting the software parameters over which we have control, or implementing third-party solutions—Such as the Report a Problem form and PIPs Rewards.

    That being said, here’s what we’ve learned and what we’re planning on doing in 2018 to better meet the needs of our riders:

    PIPs:

    PIPs Rewards Logo

    One of the programs we were most interested in hearing from you on was our recently-launched redistribution incentive program: PIPs rewards (Postive Impact Points). This program pays you when you help us redistribute bikes! Unfortunately, more than half of you didn’t know about it!

    PIPs participation

    You can get complete details on the program here, but the main thing to know is that PIPs rewards are automatically included in your monthly dashboard email, so if you haven’t cracked those emails open, this is a great reason to do so!

    We’d love participation in this program to increase. Around 30% of participants said that the 100 PIPs per balancing trip was too low, so starting this month, we’re increasing the incentive by 50%—That’s 150 PIPs per trip! For reference, 350 PIPs gets you a $5 Kindle eBook gift card, and 1500 PIPs can be redeemed for a $25 Whole Foods Gift Card! Those are just some of the many ways to redeem PIPs, and you can look to find the first round of increased PIPs in your monthly dashboard at the end of January.

    We also had a few people comment that they don’t like that negative balancing behaviors detract from their PIPs score, but the reality is that the program wouldn’t achieve its goal without also summing negative behaviors. Otherwise, PIPs would be rewarded for an action such as checking a bike in to an empty station and then checking it back out, which doesn’t aid in balancing the system. But remember—you’re never penalized for a negative net balancing score!

    Customer Service:

    Here are your average ratings for our customer service, from 1-10, in the following categories:

    Friendliness

    Ease of Interaction

    Problem Solving

    Response Time

    9.36

    9.02

    8.78

    8.52


    We only made a few changes to customer service in 2017, so let’s talk about those:

    At the beginning of 2017, based on feedback from the 2016 system improvement survey, we launched the Report a Problem form, which is attached to the new bike return notification. The vast majority of you like the notification/form combo, and we’ve seen it used more than 800 times over the course of the year—Around one reported problem for every 130 trips. This translates to a dramatic improvement in the number of bike and station issues being reported.

    For the 4% or so of you who don’t like the new notification, we’re sorry about that. Giving riders the ability to pick which notifications they do and don’t receive is, unfortunately, an aspect of software development over which we don’t have control and on which haven’t been able to influence our software vendor. We’ll stick with the will of the majority and keep the notification and form running.

    Bike Sharing as a Multimodal Solution:

    This doesn’t concern improvements, but we were happy to learn from survey data that around 32% of Boulder B-cycle trips replace personal car trips—either alone or as part of a multimodal solution. That’s great news!

    Checkout Methods:

    First of all, it was clear from the survey results that not everyone was familiar with all of the checkout methods available to them, so here’s a quick (2 minute) recap:

     

    Overall, average ratings of every checkout method were high:

    Checkout method

    Average Satisfaction (1-10)

    RFID card/Red B-card

    8.71

    Text Message

    8.46

    BCycle App

    8.33

    Credit Card

    8.07


    As before, RFID card checkout remains the highest-rated option, so if your pass allows for that checkout method and you’re not using it, give it a go!

    Most of the comments surrounding checkout methods had to do with reliability issues related to the app. We certainly recognize that there are shortcomings with the BCycle app. While we have no direct control over its development, we continue to pass along all rider feedback to our software provider, in the hope that bugs and other issues will be addressed.

    Finally, we also saw some comments about a perceived slowdown in the RFID card checkout process. We’ve noticed this same slowdown as well, and we’ve narrowed the cause down to one of two possibilities:

    1. A station software update may be to blame, and we’re working with the software vendor to see if this is the case.

    2. Our stations use a 3G data connection, and mobile providers have recently changed how they prioritize 3G versus 4G data. We’re exploring the costs and benefits of refitting our stations to operate on 4G and other upcoming networks.

    Bikes:

    Here’s what you had to say about the various features of our bikes, from 1-10:

    Appearance/
    Cleanliness

    Overall Maintenance

    Tires

    Gear Shifting

    Brakes

    8.43

    8.39

    8.12

    7.24

    7.21


    We hear you on the brake and gear issues. Gears issues in particular have seen a pretty significant jump in reporting this year, and that appears to be (aside from increased bike issue reporting in general) due to the age of some bikes in the fleet. We’ll be servicing and replacing parts as needed as bikes come through the shop, and we hope that you’ll continue using the Report a Problem form, as this is our best resource for hunting down bike issues in a timely manner!

    Other bike improvements we have planned for 2018 include brighter replacement headlights and rolling out more new grips and saddles.

    The final key piece of information to know about bikes is that as of 2017, our vendor has ceased production of the bike model that we have in service currently (known as the 1.0 B-cycle). This isn’t an immediate concern for us, as these 1.0 bikes have proven to be incredibly durable, with almost all bikes that were launched in 2011 still in service today. However, this does prevent us from responding to rider requests for alternate configurations such as rear racks or baskets.

    We are always monitoring—and riding—new bike offerings from BCycle LLC and other vendors, so we’ll revisit configuration feedback when it comes time to consider fleet replacement further down the line.

    Stations & Station Locations:

    Here were your average satisfaction levels, again from 1-10, for each aspect of station maintenance:

    Appearance/
    Cleanliness

    Overall Maintenance

    Screens

    Software Bugginess

    Docks/
    check in issues

    System Balancing

    8.79

    8.59

    8.09

    8.03

    7.89

    7.12


    As in previous years, balancing was the lowest-rated area for station satisfaction. We’re hoping that by dialing up PIPs (and making sure more people know about it) that we can mitigate some balancing issues. Per our 2017 Colorado Gives Day campaign, we’re also looking to improve operational efficiency by separating out maintenance and balancing—and doing more of both by bike! Look for more info on those changes coming soon in a separate post.

    In case you’re curious, we relocate approximately one bike per 10 trips by riders. In 2017, about 10% of our rebalancing trips were completed by the BEAST, our electric-assist bike trailer!

    As far as station location requests were concerned, it should be no surprise that once again, Table Mesa Shopping Center topped the list. Those of you who have been with us for a few years know that this location has been our white whale. We’ve recently re-started talks with the property owners there to scout viable locations. Space and cost remain significant concerns, so we’re currently exploring creative solutions to the high full-price cost of a station installation, including the possibility of relocating under-performing stations in 2018.

    Second in line were a collection of requested CU Boulder locations. While CU has been a strong supporter of our program for a number of years, expansion on CU’s campus has been hampered primarily by questions of land use and high expansion cost. Our conversations with CU continue to move forward, and the same creative solutions we’re examining for the Table Mesa Shopping Center location also apply to CU.

    Finally, winter solar issues came up in a few comments on the survey, so in the event that you missed our earlier blog post about solar issues, you can read that here.

    Pricing:

    Feedback on our pricing options was generally positive, rating as follows from 1-10:

    Sign Up Cost

    Trip Cost

    8.82

    7.94


    Some riders expressed dissatisfaction with the fact that overtime fees are only assessed in 30-minute increments, which bothers us as well. We’d love more granularity in how we can price overtime fees, e.g. to the minute, but we’re once again limited by our software on that front.

    A small percentage of riders (just under 14%) expressed willingness to pay more money for more free trip time, so if there’s a way to implement that change without adding too much complexity to our existing pass offerings, we’ll explore what that might look like for 2018.

    The only price change that we’re planning on implementing immediately applies to RFID cards for the People’s Pedaler (monthly) pass. Unfortunately, riders have not been keeping this pass active as long as we’d hoped when we initially determined its price. Many People’s Pedalers only keep their pass for a single 30-day period, and the cost to us of mailing a membership card is nearly half of a month’s cost.

    Some solutions we considered to address this problem would be for us to implement additional sign-up or cancellation fees for this pass as other cities have, or to raise the price of the People’s Pedaler, but we feel that course of action would run contrary to our goal of keeping things as simple and affordable as possible. For that reason, we’ll soon be changing how membership cards work for all new People’s Pedalers:

    • Going forward, new People’s Pedalers will be presented with the choice of receiving a membership card.

    • Riders who opt out will still have access to app, SMS, and credit card checkout, and will still pay $11 per month.

    • Riders who opt into receiving an RFID card will pay a one-time fee of $5, which will cover our cost of mailing the card.

    • People’s Pedaler pass holders who keep their passes active for four months or more will be eligible for a $5 rebate on the cost of their card, applied toward their next monthly payment.

    • A $5 card replacement fee will also apply to People’s Pedalers whose passes have been active for less than four months.

    The Republic Rider pass will still include an RFID card by default.

    Dockless/eBikes:

    Finally, a number of survey respondents asked about both dockless bike sharing and e-bikes, so we’d like to take the opportunity to address both of those questions. Currently, our vendor does not have either dockless or e-bike options available to us for purchase, but we aren’t necessarily limited to working with a single vendor, even though that’s how we’ve operated until now.

    First, let’s talk dockless: We’ve been following the dockless bike sharing industry very closely since it first broke in 2016. It’s clear to us that while there are certainly potential issues associated with some dockless bike sharing programs.You may have seen photos from Beijing, Seattle, and other cities of dockless bikes ending up destroyed or parked irresponsibly. A number of major players in the industry have also already gone bankrupt. Our analysis has determined that dockless bike sharing requires significant operational investments to ensure that it’s a benefit to the community and not a nuisance.

    We believe that Boulder deserves committed, stable, quality bike sharing. Within those parameters, we think there can place for a well-operated dockless system. One of the primary benefits of dockless bike sharing is its cost. While it’s clear that our riders want bike sharing in Boulder to serve a larger geographic area, expansion is very expensive for us under our current model. Each new bike we purchase costs over $1,000, and new stations range anywhere from $35k-$50k depending on configuration.

    Dockless bike sharing provides a much cheaper point of entry, albeit under a different business model. While dockless bike sharing could resolve some of the cost and space issues we currently face surrounding expansion, it is also worth noting that all major dockless bike sharing companies operate under a for-profit model. In other words, there is less incentive for them to operate in the kinds of low-density areas that our non-profit organization seeks, in its mission, to serve.

    Ultimately, if and how dockless bike sharing operates will depend on policy crafted at the municipal level, as well as how CU Boulder chooses to approach dockless bikes on campus. We’ve been in touch with a number of players in the dockless industry to discuss how Boulder can best be served by this new industry. You can expect a lot more to happen in this realm in 2018, and as always, we’ll be as open and transparent about with you as possible.

    As far as e-bikes are concerned, should dockless bike sharing come to Boulder, it seems likely that that’s where shared e-bikes would hit the streets first, as several large dockless companies have deployed or are developing dockless electric models. There remain a number of operational question marks surrounding e-bike sharing, most importantly the issues of batteries and pricing.

    If e-bikes are to be charged in the field, they require far more voltage than our current stations produce, and solar technology is not yet sufficiently advanced to handle charging a battery of the size found in e-bikes. In other words, running e-bikes in a station-based model would require us to replace all of our stations, and hardwire locations that were previously solar-powered. That’s expensive—As in several million dollars expensive.

    The other option is to forego stations and swap batteries in the field. This is a slightly less expensive, though ultimately still costly option. Depending on how frequently bikes were ridden, staff might have to swap each bike battery daily, which would require both a significant expense in staff time, as well as charging, stocking and storing a large surplus of batteries. Furthermore, depending on what vehicle was used for battery swapping, this could lead to a dramatic increase in the program’s carbon footprint.

    Given the costliness of both procuring and servicing e-bikes, it’s not yet clear how to effectively price an e-bike share program in such a way that it’s affordable for riders while still covering the substantially increased operational costs.

    Wrapping up:

    As in previous years, the number one thing you wanted us to work on moving forward is station locations! This, of course, is also the most expensive thing we could work on under our current model. However, given the aforementioned advancements in dockless bike sharing, there may be opportunities for bike sharing in Boulder to serve new areas of town under a different model in 2018.

    Second to station locations were system balancing and bike maintenance. We’ll continue to tweak the PIPs program to incentivize riders to help us in rebalancing, and we’ll be reporting back on how changes to our maintenance and balancing practices have impacted balancing once we have more data. We’ve also put more hours on the calendar for our fleet technicians in 2018, so we hope that will positively improve the quality of bike maintenance.

    That’s all for now! Thanks for sticking through this very long post. Look for a complete data wrap up coming in our 2017 annual report in a few weeks.

    As always, thanks for riding, thanks for your feedback, and thanks for your support!

    Ride on,

    The Boulder B-cycle team

  • Win prizes for making B-cycle awesome: Our annual system improvement survey is here

    by Kevin Bell | Dec 08,2017
    Take Survey win Lems Shoes, Pips, Naked Lunch or a free pass

    Our top priority is to run the best bike sharing program we can with the resources we have available to us. For that, your feedback is critical. That's why every year, we distribute a System Improvement Survey to assess how we've been doing in the past twelve months, and how we can improve in the year to come.

    You can click below right now to take this year's survey. It will take between 10 and 15 minutes, and we will read every single response.

    As a thank you for taking the survey, you can win one of a bunch of awesome prizes, including:


    You'll have until Sunday, 12/23 to take the survey. And feel free to share it with non-riders as well! Their opinions are welcome, and they'll also be eligible to win prizes:

    Take the Survey

  • Rider Alert: Two New Stations!

    by Kevin Bell | Apr 23,2018
    Great news, riders: We've got two new permanent station locations up and running for you to use! Here's what's up:

    33rd & Walnut

    33rd & Walnut B-cycle Station

    The installation of this station was generously funded by Google in support of their corporate membership program. The station is located in a slightly unorthodox location: on the northeast corner of 33rd & Walnut, behind the building at 3333 Walnut. With close proximity to awesome destinations like Twisted Pine and Sanitas Brewing, this station is sure to be a popular one for everybody!

    Center for Community @ Regent

    Center For Community CU B-station

    Formerly our temporary Conference on World Affairs station, this solar-powered station sits just off Regent Drive, east of the Center for Community on CU's campus. A huge thanks to everyone at CU who helped make this station happen!

    Standard note: if we haven't yet installed a station where you'd like to see one, it comes down to a combination of three factors: funding, permission, and density. These locations were installed because we had all three!

    Happy riding!
    -The Boulder B-cycle Team

  • A Temporary Station and Free Passes for Conference on World Affairs Week!

    by Kevin Bell | Apr 09,2018
    One of Boulder's favorite events, the Conference on World Affairs, starts now! We've teamed up with them to offer free passes, plus something we've never done before: a temporary station location! Check out everything you need to know below:

    A complete schedule of free events:

    In case you didn't know, the Conference on World Affairs is free to attend for the community! Guest speakers include Olympic gold medalist and author Aly Raisman, co-founder of RethinkX Tony Seba, and MSNBC nuclear security analyst Joe Cirincione. Don't miss out! View the full schedule here.


    Free Day Tripper passes

    for all attendees!

    Getting to and around CU during the CWA can be a hassle. That's why we've teamed up to provide free Day Tripper passes for all attendees during the conference: 4/9—13! If you know someone who's never B-cycled, or just if your current pass has lapsed, this is the perfect opportunity to ride. Learn how to ride free here!


    Plus: Our first ever temporary station

    at Macky Auditorium!

    That's right! To make getting around during the CWA even easier, we'll be setting up an 11-dock station just east of Macky on the northeast corner of Pleasant Street and Macky Drive for the duration of the conference (4/9—13). A huge thanks to the Conference of World Affairs folks and everyone at CU for making this happen.

    And of course, this station will end up in its permanent home following the conference. Location to be announced!

    Happy riding!

    -The Boulder B-cycle Team
  • 2-for-1 Valentine's Day Flash Sale!

    by Kevin Bell | Feb 14,2018
    2 for 1 republic rider passes

    Still looking for that perfect last-minute Valentine's Day gift? Today only, we're offering 2-for-1 on all full-price Republic Rider passes—new and renewing!

    Here's how it works:
    1. Before the end of the day today, 2/14, Purchase your new Republic Rider pass online or log into your account to renew your existing pass.
    2. Send us an email letting us know you made your $88 purchase or renewal and would like to redeem the 2-for-1 offer.
    3. We'll send you a promo code to redeem your second pass for free!

    Your second pass can be given as a gift or used to add an additional 12 months onto your existing Republic Rider pass.

    If you're on a tight gift deadline, you can download a gift certificate here to print out and give to that special someone.

    Please note: This offer is only valid for full-price pass purchases and cannot be combined with any other discounts.

  • 2017 System Improvement Survey Wrap-Up

    by Kevin Bell | Jan 08,2018

    Once again, thank you so much to everyone who took the time to complete our 2017 System Improvement Survey! 2017 was our biggest year ever, as riders broke 100,000 trips for the first time.

    As Boulder Bike Sharing, we’re proud to be the local 501(c)(3) nonprofit that runs the Boulder B-cycle program. We buy our bikes and software from BCycle LLC, a subsidiary of Trek Bikes, in Waterloo, Wisconsin. For that reason, there’s a limit to what improvements we’re able to make, particularly in the short term. Generally, improvements take the form of changing our bike and station maintenance activities, adjusting the software parameters over which we have control, or implementing third-party solutions—Such as the Report a Problem form and PIPs Rewards.

    That being said, here’s what we’ve learned and what we’re planning on doing in 2018 to better meet the needs of our riders:

    PIPs:

    PIPs Rewards Logo

    One of the programs we were most interested in hearing from you on was our recently-launched redistribution incentive program: PIPs rewards (Postive Impact Points). This program pays you when you help us redistribute bikes! Unfortunately, more than half of you didn’t know about it!

    PIPs participation

    You can get complete details on the program here, but the main thing to know is that PIPs rewards are automatically included in your monthly dashboard email, so if you haven’t cracked those emails open, this is a great reason to do so!

    We’d love participation in this program to increase. Around 30% of participants said that the 100 PIPs per balancing trip was too low, so starting this month, we’re increasing the incentive by 50%—That’s 150 PIPs per trip! For reference, 350 PIPs gets you a $5 Kindle eBook gift card, and 1500 PIPs can be redeemed for a $25 Whole Foods Gift Card! Those are just some of the many ways to redeem PIPs, and you can look to find the first round of increased PIPs in your monthly dashboard at the end of January.

    We also had a few people comment that they don’t like that negative balancing behaviors detract from their PIPs score, but the reality is that the program wouldn’t achieve its goal without also summing negative behaviors. Otherwise, PIPs would be rewarded for an action such as checking a bike in to an empty station and then checking it back out, which doesn’t aid in balancing the system. But remember—you’re never penalized for a negative net balancing score!

    Customer Service:

    Here are your average ratings for our customer service, from 1-10, in the following categories:

    Friendliness

    Ease of Interaction

    Problem Solving

    Response Time

    9.36

    9.02

    8.78

    8.52


    We only made a few changes to customer service in 2017, so let’s talk about those:

    At the beginning of 2017, based on feedback from the 2016 system improvement survey, we launched the Report a Problem form, which is attached to the new bike return notification. The vast majority of you like the notification/form combo, and we’ve seen it used more than 800 times over the course of the year—Around one reported problem for every 130 trips. This translates to a dramatic improvement in the number of bike and station issues being reported.

    For the 4% or so of you who don’t like the new notification, we’re sorry about that. Giving riders the ability to pick which notifications they do and don’t receive is, unfortunately, an aspect of software development over which we don’t have control and on which haven’t been able to influence our software vendor. We’ll stick with the will of the majority and keep the notification and form running.

    Bike Sharing as a Multimodal Solution:

    This doesn’t concern improvements, but we were happy to learn from survey data that around 32% of Boulder B-cycle trips replace personal car trips—either alone or as part of a multimodal solution. That’s great news!

    Checkout Methods:

    First of all, it was clear from the survey results that not everyone was familiar with all of the checkout methods available to them, so here’s a quick (2 minute) recap:

     

    Overall, average ratings of every checkout method were high:

    Checkout method

    Average Satisfaction (1-10)

    RFID card/Red B-card

    8.71

    Text Message

    8.46

    BCycle App

    8.33

    Credit Card

    8.07


    As before, RFID card checkout remains the highest-rated option, so if your pass allows for that checkout method and you’re not using it, give it a go!

    Most of the comments surrounding checkout methods had to do with reliability issues related to the app. We certainly recognize that there are shortcomings with the BCycle app. While we have no direct control over its development, we continue to pass along all rider feedback to our software provider, in the hope that bugs and other issues will be addressed.

    Finally, we also saw some comments about a perceived slowdown in the RFID card checkout process. We’ve noticed this same slowdown as well, and we’ve narrowed the cause down to one of two possibilities:

    1. A station software update may be to blame, and we’re working with the software vendor to see if this is the case.

    2. Our stations use a 3G data connection, and mobile providers have recently changed how they prioritize 3G versus 4G data. We’re exploring the costs and benefits of refitting our stations to operate on 4G and other upcoming networks.

    Bikes:

    Here’s what you had to say about the various features of our bikes, from 1-10:

    Appearance/
    Cleanliness

    Overall Maintenance

    Tires

    Gear Shifting

    Brakes

    8.43

    8.39

    8.12

    7.24

    7.21


    We hear you on the brake and gear issues. Gears issues in particular have seen a pretty significant jump in reporting this year, and that appears to be (aside from increased bike issue reporting in general) due to the age of some bikes in the fleet. We’ll be servicing and replacing parts as needed as bikes come through the shop, and we hope that you’ll continue using the Report a Problem form, as this is our best resource for hunting down bike issues in a timely manner!

    Other bike improvements we have planned for 2018 include brighter replacement headlights and rolling out more new grips and saddles.

    The final key piece of information to know about bikes is that as of 2017, our vendor has ceased production of the bike model that we have in service currently (known as the 1.0 B-cycle). This isn’t an immediate concern for us, as these 1.0 bikes have proven to be incredibly durable, with almost all bikes that were launched in 2011 still in service today. However, this does prevent us from responding to rider requests for alternate configurations such as rear racks or baskets.

    We are always monitoring—and riding—new bike offerings from BCycle LLC and other vendors, so we’ll revisit configuration feedback when it comes time to consider fleet replacement further down the line.

    Stations & Station Locations:

    Here were your average satisfaction levels, again from 1-10, for each aspect of station maintenance:

    Appearance/
    Cleanliness

    Overall Maintenance

    Screens

    Software Bugginess

    Docks/
    check in issues

    System Balancing

    8.79

    8.59

    8.09

    8.03

    7.89

    7.12


    As in previous years, balancing was the lowest-rated area for station satisfaction. We’re hoping that by dialing up PIPs (and making sure more people know about it) that we can mitigate some balancing issues. Per our 2017 Colorado Gives Day campaign, we’re also looking to improve operational efficiency by separating out maintenance and balancing—and doing more of both by bike! Look for more info on those changes coming soon in a separate post.

    In case you’re curious, we relocate approximately one bike per 10 trips by riders. In 2017, about 10% of our rebalancing trips were completed by the BEAST, our electric-assist bike trailer!

    As far as station location requests were concerned, it should be no surprise that once again, Table Mesa Shopping Center topped the list. Those of you who have been with us for a few years know that this location has been our white whale. We’ve recently re-started talks with the property owners there to scout viable locations. Space and cost remain significant concerns, so we’re currently exploring creative solutions to the high full-price cost of a station installation, including the possibility of relocating under-performing stations in 2018.

    Second in line were a collection of requested CU Boulder locations. While CU has been a strong supporter of our program for a number of years, expansion on CU’s campus has been hampered primarily by questions of land use and high expansion cost. Our conversations with CU continue to move forward, and the same creative solutions we’re examining for the Table Mesa Shopping Center location also apply to CU.

    Finally, winter solar issues came up in a few comments on the survey, so in the event that you missed our earlier blog post about solar issues, you can read that here.

    Pricing:

    Feedback on our pricing options was generally positive, rating as follows from 1-10:

    Sign Up Cost

    Trip Cost

    8.82

    7.94


    Some riders expressed dissatisfaction with the fact that overtime fees are only assessed in 30-minute increments, which bothers us as well. We’d love more granularity in how we can price overtime fees, e.g. to the minute, but we’re once again limited by our software on that front.

    A small percentage of riders (just under 14%) expressed willingness to pay more money for more free trip time, so if there’s a way to implement that change without adding too much complexity to our existing pass offerings, we’ll explore what that might look like for 2018.

    The only price change that we’re planning on implementing immediately applies to RFID cards for the People’s Pedaler (monthly) pass. Unfortunately, riders have not been keeping this pass active as long as we’d hoped when we initially determined its price. Many People’s Pedalers only keep their pass for a single 30-day period, and the cost to us of mailing a membership card is nearly half of a month’s cost.

    Some solutions we considered to address this problem would be for us to implement additional sign-up or cancellation fees for this pass as other cities have, or to raise the price of the People’s Pedaler, but we feel that course of action would run contrary to our goal of keeping things as simple and affordable as possible. For that reason, we’ll soon be changing how membership cards work for all new People’s Pedalers:

    • Going forward, new People’s Pedalers will be presented with the choice of receiving a membership card.

    • Riders who opt out will still have access to app, SMS, and credit card checkout, and will still pay $11 per month.

    • Riders who opt into receiving an RFID card will pay a one-time fee of $5, which will cover our cost of mailing the card.

    • People’s Pedaler pass holders who keep their passes active for four months or more will be eligible for a $5 rebate on the cost of their card, applied toward their next monthly payment.

    • A $5 card replacement fee will also apply to People’s Pedalers whose passes have been active for less than four months.

    The Republic Rider pass will still include an RFID card by default.

    Dockless/eBikes:

    Finally, a number of survey respondents asked about both dockless bike sharing and e-bikes, so we’d like to take the opportunity to address both of those questions. Currently, our vendor does not have either dockless or e-bike options available to us for purchase, but we aren’t necessarily limited to working with a single vendor, even though that’s how we’ve operated until now.

    First, let’s talk dockless: We’ve been following the dockless bike sharing industry very closely since it first broke in 2016. It’s clear to us that while there are certainly potential issues associated with some dockless bike sharing programs.You may have seen photos from Beijing, Seattle, and other cities of dockless bikes ending up destroyed or parked irresponsibly. A number of major players in the industry have also already gone bankrupt. Our analysis has determined that dockless bike sharing requires significant operational investments to ensure that it’s a benefit to the community and not a nuisance.

    We believe that Boulder deserves committed, stable, quality bike sharing. Within those parameters, we think there can place for a well-operated dockless system. One of the primary benefits of dockless bike sharing is its cost. While it’s clear that our riders want bike sharing in Boulder to serve a larger geographic area, expansion is very expensive for us under our current model. Each new bike we purchase costs over $1,000, and new stations range anywhere from $35k-$50k depending on configuration.

    Dockless bike sharing provides a much cheaper point of entry, albeit under a different business model. While dockless bike sharing could resolve some of the cost and space issues we currently face surrounding expansion, it is also worth noting that all major dockless bike sharing companies operate under a for-profit model. In other words, there is less incentive for them to operate in the kinds of low-density areas that our non-profit organization seeks, in its mission, to serve.

    Ultimately, if and how dockless bike sharing operates will depend on policy crafted at the municipal level, as well as how CU Boulder chooses to approach dockless bikes on campus. We’ve been in touch with a number of players in the dockless industry to discuss how Boulder can best be served by this new industry. You can expect a lot more to happen in this realm in 2018, and as always, we’ll be as open and transparent about with you as possible.

    As far as e-bikes are concerned, should dockless bike sharing come to Boulder, it seems likely that that’s where shared e-bikes would hit the streets first, as several large dockless companies have deployed or are developing dockless electric models. There remain a number of operational question marks surrounding e-bike sharing, most importantly the issues of batteries and pricing.

    If e-bikes are to be charged in the field, they require far more voltage than our current stations produce, and solar technology is not yet sufficiently advanced to handle charging a battery of the size found in e-bikes. In other words, running e-bikes in a station-based model would require us to replace all of our stations, and hardwire locations that were previously solar-powered. That’s expensive—As in several million dollars expensive.

    The other option is to forego stations and swap batteries in the field. This is a slightly less expensive, though ultimately still costly option. Depending on how frequently bikes were ridden, staff might have to swap each bike battery daily, which would require both a significant expense in staff time, as well as charging, stocking and storing a large surplus of batteries. Furthermore, depending on what vehicle was used for battery swapping, this could lead to a dramatic increase in the program’s carbon footprint.

    Given the costliness of both procuring and servicing e-bikes, it’s not yet clear how to effectively price an e-bike share program in such a way that it’s affordable for riders while still covering the substantially increased operational costs.

    Wrapping up:

    As in previous years, the number one thing you wanted us to work on moving forward is station locations! This, of course, is also the most expensive thing we could work on under our current model. However, given the aforementioned advancements in dockless bike sharing, there may be opportunities for bike sharing in Boulder to serve new areas of town under a different model in 2018.

    Second to station locations were system balancing and bike maintenance. We’ll continue to tweak the PIPs program to incentivize riders to help us in rebalancing, and we’ll be reporting back on how changes to our maintenance and balancing practices have impacted balancing once we have more data. We’ve also put more hours on the calendar for our fleet technicians in 2018, so we hope that will positively improve the quality of bike maintenance.

    That’s all for now! Thanks for sticking through this very long post. Look for a complete data wrap up coming in our 2017 annual report in a few weeks.

    As always, thanks for riding, thanks for your feedback, and thanks for your support!

    Ride on,

    The Boulder B-cycle team

  • Win prizes for making B-cycle awesome: Our annual system improvement survey is here

    by Kevin Bell | Dec 08,2017
    Take Survey win Lems Shoes, Pips, Naked Lunch or a free pass

    Our top priority is to run the best bike sharing program we can with the resources we have available to us. For that, your feedback is critical. That's why every year, we distribute a System Improvement Survey to assess how we've been doing in the past twelve months, and how we can improve in the year to come.

    You can click below right now to take this year's survey. It will take between 10 and 15 minutes, and we will read every single response.

    As a thank you for taking the survey, you can win one of a bunch of awesome prizes, including:


    You'll have until Sunday, 12/23 to take the survey. And feel free to share it with non-riders as well! Their opinions are welcome, and they'll also be eligible to win prizes:

    Take the Survey

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