DENVER Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood strapped on a bike helmet and took a leisurely ride through downtown Denver with Mayor John Hickenlooper on Wednesday, promoting a bicycle-sharing program the secretary called a model for America.
People want a lot of different ways to get around the community, LaHood said before getting on a bicycle for a ride with Hickenlooper and other dignitaries. Organizers of Denvers B-Cycle program say its the first large-scale municipal bike-share in the country, with 43 stations and 400 bicycles around the city. LaHood said Minneapolis has a program similar to Denvers, but its on a much smaller scale. Des Moines, Iowa, also is considering a bike-sharing program.
LaHood said he expects cities around the country to copy Denvers program, which began in April.
This is an extraordinary opportunity for Denver, as I said, to be the model for the country, which I think it will be, he said.
LaHood was in Denver to speak at a round-table about energy and climate change. He rode a bicycle a few blocks from a news conference about the bike-share program to an opera house where the round-table was happening.
The bike-share is supported through membership usage fees, with people paying $5 for a day or $65 for a year. Riders can use the bicycles for only 30 minutes at a time, and then they have to drop off the bikes at a B-Cyle station.
The bikes themselves were purchased through grants and donations, said Brent Tongco, a spokesman for Denver Bike Sharing, which operates the B-Cycle program. Tongco said the plan is to expand to 50 stations by September and then 100 by sometime in 2011.
Mayor Hickenlooper said the idea of the program is to make transportation multimodal.
Oftentimes when you come in on transit, a bicycle is the perfect way to get to your office, he said.