by kaitlin clark | July 31, 2013 | People
Mirte Mallory enjoys a midday jaunt on one of 100 WE-cycle bikes.
The latest endeavor from Aspenite Mirte Mallory isn’t just business, it’s personal. Three years in the making, WE-cycle debuts in Aspen this May as one of the nation’s most sophisticated bike-sharing programs. “Bike sharing is a transit alternative that allows people to make short trips on a bicycle,” she says. “As a nonprofit [with public and private funding], our goal is to reduce vehicle trips within Aspen’s downtown core and provide a fun, efficient, and independent means of transportation around Aspen.”
Denver, Washington, D.C., and Minneapolis were among the first US cities to launch a large-scale bikeshare system. Mallory, who founded WE-cycle with Linden Mallory and Philip Jeffreys and serves as its executive director, was inspired to bring bike-sharing to the Rockies during a trip to Paris. “Having seen it so successful on such a large scale in European communities, I started to think about how it could work in ours,” she says. She also recognized the potential for environmental sustainability and a way to improve the lives of commuters, tourists, and locals.
Mallory is the granddaughter of photographer Ferenc Berko, considered a founder of modern Aspen. He ushered in a new era for the city by photographically chronicling its transformation from mining town to jet-set wonderland, with the glossy images landing in Life and Time. Drawing upon her family background, coupled with her ongoing role as vice chair of the Pitkin County Planning & Zoning Commission, Mallory pinpointed the community’s key needs and areas for improvement.
“Through community surveys, we have continually identified traffic congestion as one of the [detriments to the] quality of life here,” she says. “I was eager to be part of the solution in implementing a program that can address some of our traffic and parking challenges.”
WE-cycle will provide 100 bicycles at 12 stations across town; the number of bikes per station will vary, depending on where users end their rides. Participants can keep track of the number of bikes at each station via the Cycle-Finder smartphone app or the WE-cycle website.
The popularity of bike sharing has expanded, growing from 60 programs in 2007 to nearly 500 worldwide today. “The concept represents a host of positive benefits,” Mallory says, “from improved air quality and transit [issues] to reducing obesity and diabetes, increasing our overall health, and promoting a sense of community.”
Fostering public engagement is fundamental to WEcycle’s mission. “As an organization, we believe in shifting gears from an ‘I’ culture to a ‘we’ culture,” she explains. “It’s not as individuals that we’ll be able to tackle many of our global and communal challenges, but [as a collective]: We’re all responsible for our community’s future. Often when you are riding around on a bike, you are more sensitive to topography, landmarks, the environment, and you’re just paying more attention in general. It’s a way of engaging all of these different sensibilities into one common activity.” One-day ($7), three-day ($15), seven-day ($25), and season ($55) We-cycle passes are available. 855-501-RIDE
photography by jesse dittmar