A New Style of Bike Sharing Rolls Into Golden

Last week's Bike to Work Day in Golden kicked off with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Visitors Center, where Mayor Marjorie Sloan dedicated the brand-new Golden Bike Library, a bike-share program for residents, visitors, students and workers in the town that's distinct from Denver's B-cycle and designed with families in mind.

“When B-cycle started up in Denver, we started talking, wondering if a similar program would be a good fit for Golden,” explains Golden’s sustainability coordinator, Theresa Worsham. Golden hired consultants for focus groups and demographic and comparative research; it turned out there was a high level of interest in bike-sharing within the community, but the Denver B-cycle model wouldn’t be a good fit.  

“B-cycle bikes are heavier, for example, and only have three gears,” explains Worsham. Golden’s hilly topography mandated “something light, with lots of gears. Also, people wanted to be able to ride with their families, so we knew we’d need various sizes of bikes.”

So Golden looked to Fort Collins, where a similar bike library was already up and running. When a federal grant for transit improvements materialized, Golden pitched its take on bike sharing. “We were lucky enough to get it, and we have a two-year grant that’s fully funded,” says city planning manager Rick Muriby.

The Golden Bike Library – located at the Visitors Center at 1010 Washington Avenue – currently houses forty bikes, including five youth bicycles amid a mix of medium and large adult models. The first two hours of every bike rental are free; daylong and multi-day rentals will only set users back $10 daily.
Riders can take out bikes Thursday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. — and they can keep rentals overnight, or return them after hours via racks and a secure lockbox. All rentals come with a helmet and lock; riders also receive a reusable water bottle and a Golden Ticket, good for discounts at various local businesses and restaurants. Notes Muriby: “We have staff manning our bike library station” who can help patrons adjust and tune their rentals.

The goal for 2017 is to augment Golden’s flagship library with complementary stations, one at the light-rail station, another on the Colorado School of Mines campus. “In year two, we envision this turning into a hybrid library and bike-share program,” Muriby adds.

Golden’s Bike Library is stocked with American-made Jamis bikes — the best-selling 22-speed Explorer and the Laser 20, a lightweight and durable aluminum model with a coaster brake and rear V-brake ideal for youth. City planners are looking at adding recumbent bikes and trailers to the existing fleet, and they’ve tossed around the idea of retrofitting their bikes with the Copenhagen Wheel, an electrical-assisted wheel that would make uphill treks less grueling. “We’re trying to add things that would be useful to a number of types of riders,” Worsham explains.

There are 24 miles of interconnected bike trails in Golden, all easily accessible from the Golden Bike Library; it's located on the Clear Creek Trail, making that path a natural choice for cruising. Renters can also explore the town via Washington Avenue. “It’s an easy pedal to the American Mountaineering Museum, the Golden Heritage Center, Colorado Railroad Museum or the free tours at Coors Brewery,” Worsham notes. And commuters will have access to the RTD West Rail Line.

“Golden has had a strong bike community for years, and that’s helped the city create master plans for bike improvements along trails and streets,” Worsham says. The city is hoping to create an even more robust culture of bike enthusiasts — and an even more sustainable transit strategy, too.

“For almost a decade, Golden’s sustainability plan has involved alternative transit options; the bike-library program is a good component of that,” says Worsham.

For more information, go to Visit Golden’s website.
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Jamie Siebrase is a Denver-based freelance writer, and author of the forthcoming Falcon Guide Hiking Wth Kids, Colorado: 52 Great Hikes for Families.
Contact: Jamie Siebrase