I Started Using B-Cycle’s Free 5280 Program. Here’s How It’s Going

2019-08-18_bcycle_00

This guest commentary was originally published on the DenverUrbanism blog.

Background

Prior to January 2019, I used B-Cycle very sparingly. To me, it seemed like a primitive ancestor of Lime, Bird, and other services that have popped up under the scooter pilot program. When the 5280 Program was announced, I applied and received free B-Cycle rides for the year.

After using the program for a little over half a year, it has both confirmed some assumptions about the B-Cycle program and broken down a few, too. This article will detail my experience with B-Cycle, including general availability, quality of bikes and customer service experience with simple letter grades.

Disclaimer

I am a relatively new adopter of B-Cycle, having only 64 rides under my belt. More experienced riders may have a more informed opinion, given how long they have ridden and how the service has changed over the years.

The B-Cycle station I use at the corner of 13th and Speer to get to work.
The B-Cycle station I use at the corner of 13th and Speer to get to work.

Availability:  B-

Availability of Docks
When I ride out to the office around 6:30 a.m., there are roughly four to five B-Cycles available at my station, which is located close to the heavily trafficked King Soopers at 13th and Speer. When I get to my destination at 15th and Delgany, there are usually about three to four places for me to dock my bike. I have never had issues finding a dock or a bike at a B-Cycle station, outside of the odd station being impacted at peak hours of the day.

The B-Cycle station at 15th and Delgany.
The B-Cycle station at 15th and Delgany.

Station Locations
B-Cycle is fairly convenient if you are trying to get somewhere within a mile of Denver’s Central Business District, with the farthest north station at 39th Avenue and Fox and farthest south station near the Cherry Creek Mall. The northernmost I ever go when I am on a B-Cycle is usually the 30th Street and Lawrence station in RiNo.

The B-Cycle station near the Cherry Creek Mall.
The B-Cycle station near the Cherry Creek Mall.

Service Hours
B-Cycle stations are open from 5:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. midnight, with maintenance being done on the fleet during off hours.


Reliability of Bikes:  D+
With a large fleet to maintain, B-Cycles feel like clumsy death traps at times. Ripped off bells, shifting that makes one worry of a dropped chain and seats that can be difficult to adjust at times contribute to being worried if your B-Cycle will make it to its destination. Just the other day, I accidentally checked out a B-Cycle that had a half pumped tire, making it to my destination on pure pedal power.


Customer Service:  A-

The one area where B-Cycle as a program shines is its customer service. When a station was having issues, I called the B-Cycle hotline and they quickly reset the station electronically so that I could check out a bike on a wintry day. When I wanted a key fob to check out bikes, they sent me one the day I requested it. The customer service team is superb, and should have their successful model replicated across other departments that Denver B-Cycle has.

My slightly faded B-Cycle fob and my personal ridership statistics.
My slightly faded B-Cycle fob and my personal ridership statistics.

Closing Thoughts

After the free trial, I would sign up for the B-Cycle program if they were able to increase their fleet of mechanics that do maintenance on their bikes. Realistically, I will stick with my own bike or the trains for getting around the metro area once I am finished with the program. To be successful after the free 5280 program, Denver B-Cycle will need to bolster up its fleet of mechanics while trying to find ways of slashing costs if it hopes to survive in the post-scooter landscape.


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