B-Cycle Lowers Per Trip Rate in Hopes of Encouraging More Rides

Photo: David Sachs

It will cost a little less to rent a B-Cycle for 30 minutes, at least until the end of August.

Earlier this year, in an attempt to raise revenue while also growing ridership, Executive Director Nick Bohnenkamp eliminated the $9 day pass in favor of offering single rides of up to 30 minutes. But at $7 a pop, it was the most expensive half-hour fee in the country.

The theory was that because 60 percent of B-Cycle riders use a bike just once per day, the $7 per-trip fee would be a better bargain for them and would grow the system’s base, Bohnenkamp told Streetsblog. The risk, he admitted, was that nixing the day pass would alienate other riders who want to check out a bike several times a day.

This month B-Cycle is trying out a discount on the per-trip rate, charging $4.95 instead of $7. The new rate is just promotional, though, and will cease in September.

Experimenting with different pricing options probably won’t hurt and might bring a few more customers on board, but what B-Cycle really needs is a better network of stations. Despite the Mile High City’s bike-friendly climate, B-Cycle’s ridership doesn’t stack up well compared to bike-share systems in other cities.

The core problem is that stations are spread too thin, which makes bike-share an impractical travel option for too many trips. The city’s sparse network of high-quality bike lanes doesn’t help either — people won’t ride if they don’t feel safe.

Fixing these shortcomings will take political leadership, but City Council members have yet to come up with a strategy to expand B-Cycle citywide, even though it’s one of their stated priorities this year.