Early on January 3, the B-cycle station at Welton and 27th streets, right in front of the old Rossonian Hotel (the focus of our current cover story), was hit by a driver who lost control of his car. Nick Bohnenkamp, executive director of B-cycle, estimates that the accident did $40,000 worth of damage to B-cycle equipment. That was the biggest dent in the budget of a program that's been relatively accident-free since it was introduced four years ago.
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Each B-cycle bike is specially made by Trek, and is worth $1,188 each. The frames are thicker and sturdier than a bike that you would pick up in a shop, says Bohnenkamp: "There is also custom tooling that only allows operators like us to remove parts (so people can't steal the seats or wheels while the bike is docked, for instance), hub-powered lights, internal gearing to withstand sitting outside in the elements, and they all have GPS units in them which allow our annual members to log into their accounts and see their ride routes over a map interface."
When B-cycle launched four years ago, the program was prepared for a lot of bikes to disappear. But so far, only ten have been stolen. "We are fortunate to have a caring general public and a band of B-cycle users in Denver, who often notify us when they see B-cycles in strange places, or locked up in one location too long so we can check on their status and determine if they need to be recovered," Bohnenkamp says.
In order to rent a bike, a credit card must be attached to the renter's account. If a bike has not been returned after 36 hours, B-cycle protocol is to call the phone number that goes with the credit card information. "Each situation can be pretty unique," Bohnenkamp says. In one case, the information used to check out the bike had been stolen; B-cycle was the one that alerted the card-holder that his identity and credit card information had been stolen.
So far, the accident at 27th and Welton has been the most expensive upset B-cycle has seen so far. But that won't keep them down for long. "We will definitely re-open," Bohnenkamp says of the wrecked site. "But timing is still up in the air." Have a tip? E-mail email@example.com.