Boulder! It's Tuesday night, one week before the elections, and I know ya'll are STRESSED.

Normally city council meetings would raise the blood pressure, but tonight we've got a nice, boring study session on transportation stuff.
Follow along; it will basically be like Norwegian slow TV.
Councilman Swetlik is leading this study session. He hasn't dispensed with the backlit couch for the occasion.
First topic of the night is a check-in on Boulder B-Cycle, which is exploring new funding models because it's current one (big, corporate sponsors) isn't working.

Staff presentation:…
B-Cycle is actually two different entities:
The nonprofit Boulder Bike Share, which operates a fleet of rentable, docked bikes that use the B-Cycle LLC platform.

B-Cycle is a subsidiary of Trek bikes, based in Waterloo, Wisc.
Boulder B-Cycle started in 2011
Some stats:
300 bikes
45 docking stations
~105,000 trips per year (about 1 per bike per day)
15,000 individual users per year
60% Boulder residents / 40% CU affiliated residents
As mentioned before, the current funding model is corporate sponsorship. But B-Cycle ran out of money after losing a big corporate sponsor, causing the city to step in with $80K in emergency cash in 2019 and $117,000 this year.
Total 2011-2020 city spending on B-Cycle: $1.038M
“The level of subsidy required to keep Boulder Bike Share operational, however, is not financially viable with existing city transportation funds.”

Reminder: Transportation budget was cut by $4M in 2020, 2021
The public / users weighed in on the future of B-Cycle
35 stakeholder interviews
285 users surveyed

Recommendation: Partner with private co. where BBS operates but doesn’t own equipment
That is one of four options staff is presenting for council, who tonight will provide feedback. Staff is not making a recommendation; they want to start a competitive bidding process first, which will reveal more info.
Those four options:
1. No more B-Cycle; new private company to run e-bike and e-scooter sharing

2. Private company to run e-bike and e-scooter sharing; Boulder Bike Share would operate through a franchise model
3. B-Cycle would operate, with or without nonprofit Boulder Bike Share

4. Boulder Bike Share continues as-is with subsidy from the city
Pros and cons: Private ownership cheaper for city, but may not provide continuity of service if it does not turn a profit

Subsidy costs money but gives more continuity, flexibility to adapt without needing to make $$ on the service
Other considerations:
Bikes and equipment are 10 years old; well maintained, but should we keep investing in them or upgrade to e-bikes, something else?
Ridership declined early in 2020, but it bounced back in a big way when CU was back in session.

Use down 60% this year BUT up in August/September (3 trips per bike per day) since fall semester at CU began
Oh, B-Cycle is also giving free bike rentals on Election Day.
There's a matrix for the four funding options. Love a good transportation matrix.
Even though staff is NOT recommending a specific option, it looks like the fourth one (continued city subsidy) would not meet all the city's goals for shared bikes.
Forgot to say that no matter what funding model we end up with, B-Cycle will likely incorporate e-bikes and potentially e-scooters.

"We believe we can get more trips per bike per day on e-bikes vs. traditional bikes," says Dave DK Kemp, transportation planner.
An RFP (request for proposals) will be issued later this year to look for an operator.
The new program, whatever it is, will begin in Spring 2021
Moving on to council questions. Yates up first.
"We're looking likely at a significant change here, so we don't need to dwell too much on the past or even the present," Yates says.
Yates: How many riders are regular users vs. tourists? (day pass or hourly payments vs. subscribers)
Kevin Crouse, from Boulder Bike Share: "Casual, walk-up users" take 1.5 trips per person, on average, but that number has been doing down as the number of annual passes goes up. They take a lot more trips person.
Yates repeats his question.
Crouse: Last year, of the 105K total trips, low 20K were tourists and visitors. This year, over 70% of trips are from CU-affiliated, regular riders.
Yates: I'm trying to get a sense of who uses these bikes for commuting purposes.
He's doing some on-the-fly maths.
Update: I'm saying maths now instead of maths because I like to be British and/or annoying.
Yates: How many annual subscribers do you have?
Crouse: 6,000 at this point.

"A handful of folks have already ridden over 1,000 trips this year."
Yates: How many commuters do you that make over 100 trips annually? Are we talking hundreds? A couple hundred?
Crouse: I'm guessing we're in the dozens. In past years, the top 10 riders have made 10% of trips.
Yates: Historically, 40% of trips were taken by CU students, faculty or staff. I know that's going up. What's CU's feeling about subsidizing a system?
CU did kick in extra $$ the past couple years. In 2020, their subsidy went from $15-$20K to $78K.
Well, that was last year, but it was for the 2020 budget.
Brandon something from CU says the university "feels good" about that subsidy.
Yates asking about the benefits of keeping Boulder Bike Share as the operator.
Kemp: We'd keep the institutional knowledge of having run a shared bike system for the past 10 years.
That would be funding option B.
Crouse fielding a q from Wallch that I missed. Many cities have a separate owner and operator. One co. owns the equipment (bikes, stations, etc) and a local organization runs the system.

In Boulder, we've always had an owner/operator.
Though in some cities, there's a city transit agency that owns the equipment and a for-profit company that operates it and returns $$ to the city, Crouse says.
Kemp: We're right now speculating that these could be potential funding scenarios that could come out of the competitive bidding process. We're not shaping the RFP to any particular one.
Brockett: So the RFP process will be fairly open-ended, and these are some of the scenarios that might emerge from that?
Yes, Kemp confirms.
Robert Hutchinson from Transportation Advisory Board is here to talk about TAB's thoughts on this.
1. Data: "There are cities where what they're learning about who does what, when, from more modern, shared systems is amazing in terms of really thinking about transportation dynamics in a city."
The gold is in learning about "the non-standard flow." ... You don't look to these shared systems to be someone's daily commute. If they're commuting every day, they have their own bike. You learn when ppl go downtown, etc.
2. E-bikes. "E-bikes are a really, really big deal. ... Expect to see massive numbers of e-bikes. If we have an effective e-bike service within this construct, we're going to have totally different" classes of users than we have now.
Again, this is all still Hutchinson.
3. Caution. "From what we know, there's a set of big cities where I think a fair amount of the wrinkles in the biz model ... how you make $$ and where is this going ... is starting to mature. And that's big cities, not Boulder. We're on the weeny end of the spectrum here."
"We're in experimental mode right now. ... I think you're going to get a lot of fast-footing."
Young q: Why are more CU folks riding bikes?
Kemp: Some of it may be that students are not using transit right now bc of COVID.
Young asking about equity, per usual.
Specifically, what's required of operators in terms of equity.
Didn't get an exact answer as to what that is, only that there ARE equity requirements for operators.
They did something similar with e-scooters.
Friend: It looks like continued city subsidy is not viable. Why are we still looking at that and an option for B-Cycle LLC to completely take over, when they don't meet our goals?
Kemp: That's feedback we're looking for tonight.
Friend: Has the city looked at any subsidies for e-bikes? (Boulder city and/or county has provided subsidies for electric cars in the past)
Kemp: That's in our master plan (but again, only if they have the $$ which... they don't.
~30% cuts to transportation in the 2021 budget
Joseph: If we dissolve B-Cycle, will all bikes be replaced with e-scooters?
Kemp: No. Our e-scooter rules allow for an initial fleet of 200; we're looking at a fleet of 500 for bikes/e-bikes.
I didn't quite understand her second question, but I think it was about where the bikes will go...?
Kemp: That's up to the city. And it's dynamic; "demand shifts." The B-Cycle stations have been moved before in response to shifting demand.
Now council feedback. Oh, goody.
Yates telling a Personal Story. yay.
He rode an e-bike, so he likes e-bikes.
He "almost saw a fight" over the last e-bike at a station in New York! Gasp!
"The biggest problem they're having in New York is they have too few e-bikes," Yates says. So he wants Boulder to keep that in mind.
Yates: We should allow companies to choose if they want Boulder Bike Share as a partner or not. "That's really, quite frankly, between the bidder and Boulder Bike Share."
Again restating his opposition to allowing e-scooters in east Boulder. That vote to allow them was last month(?), 7-2. Yates says he'll vote against whatever proposal comes up with shared bikes if it includes scooters.
Mayor Weaver also agrees that Boulder Bike Share doesn't have to continue as a part of whatever funding model comes up in competitive bidding process.
And agrees that e-bikes are a game changer: They totally changed my commute, he says.
Weaver: "I expect with e-bikes, that (they) will be more popular" than traditional bikes. "We should plan for that."
He wants Boulder to allow only pedal-assist e-bikes, which have a lower top speed than other kinds of e-bikes. "We definitely want to stay away from ... the highest speed" bikes. Should be limited to 15 mph, since that's the speed limit on bike paths.
Weaver: "I want to thank Boulder Bike Share for the past decade. I hope they're involved in the next decade, but I think we have to let the present market figure that out."
Young agrees with not allowing e-bikes that go over 15 mph.
Brockett agrees with everything that's been said so far.
Brockett: "We want to see what's out there and what meets the needs of the city. The reality is we don't really have the money right now for the same level of subsidies we've been putting in."
Nagle also hates scooters. (She missed that meeting and vote.)
She agrees with Yates, Weaver and Young.
Friend doesn't want to limit e-bikes to only pedal assist. What if a different type of bike is safer, or increases accessibility and therefore equity?
I don't want to be "too prescriptive," she says. "If we limit what we're looking at ... that may be taking the best bike option out of the equation."
Wallach: When we OK'd a pilot program for e-scooters, isn't that supposed to come back to council for us to look at it again?

I guess that vote was just a pre-authorization authorization
Kemp: We will be sharing with council, via email or info packet, the e-scooter pilot. The geographic parameters council decided on will be in the RFP.
Wallach: I'm also not a big fan of e-scooters. But I want it to be correct in scope and implementation. I'd like to see it before we make it part of the RFP.
Joseph: I think placement of e-scooters is very important.
Swetlik agrees with everything, too.
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