A self-professed bike geek, Northstar Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder Bob Van Wetter has loved cycling since he was a kid. But until about four years ago, Van Wetter mainly considered biking a recreational endeavor, rather than a means of transportation. His thinking shifted when his usual daily drive to work became much more time consuming and stressful.
“I thought I would try to do something different and maybe get some time back in the process,” recalled Van Wetter. He started taking light rail to work, but still faced a mile-long walk from the train station to Northstar’s office. So, Van Wetter began using Denver’s bike sharing system, Denver B-cycle, to make up the distance. The combination of biking and light rail only extended his commute by about 10 minutes and left him feeling a lot more relaxed when he arrived at work. He soon became a member of B-cycle and also began using the bikes for quick exercise during his lunch hour.
When a friend suggested he join Denver B-cycle’s board, Van Wetter jumped at the chance, thinking it would provide an opportunity to learn more about bike sharing and transportation infrastructure. Van Wetter, who was a previous board member of the Children’s Museum of Denver, Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado and the Colorado Health Foundation, has served on the board since 2015, providing insight for the organization’s finance committee and helping with strategic decisions.
Founded in 2008, Denver B-cycle is owned and operated by the non-profit, Denver Bike Sharing. The organization is supported through memberships, corporate sponsorships and funding from the city of Denver. Last year, riders purchased or redeemed more than 61,000 memberships, which allow users access to bikes that are conveniently docked throughout the city. Prices start at $5 per half hour.
The program has had a positive impact on the environment, helping to avoid the emission of more than 1.5 million pounds of carbon dioxide in 2017. Forty-one percent of riders used B-cycle to replace car trips last year and another 32.6 percent used the service in conjunction with public transportation. In total, the bikes were used for more than 344,000 trips.
Van Wetter notes that B-cycle also plays an important role in helping Denver deal with the traffic pressures caused by its recent population growth.
“As more people explore alternatives to commuting by car, the ‘last mile solution’ provided by bikes is attractive for short trips. This is part of the solution if we ever want to get to a better place, rather than seeing things get worse and worse,” he said.
For more information about biking sharing, visit www.denverbcycle.com