Stagger regional e-bike program off to a strong start in inaugural summer

Following its inaugural season, Vail is reviewing the regional Shift E-Bike program alongside partners EagleVail and Avon.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily Archive

This summer, the communities of Vail, EagleVail and Avon launched a new regional e-bike sharing program through Drop Mobility in an effort to advance countywide climate action goals.

Transportation (including air travel) is currently the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the county, according to the Eagle County Climate Action Collaborative. The overall objectives of the collaboration include reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2025, 50% by 2030 and 80% by 2050.

The Shift e-bike program aimed to make a dent in these goals in its first season by encouraging residents and visitors to “switch” to using bicycles rather than cars for certain journeys. According to a report published in the Nov. 15 package from the Vail City Council, the program was successful in reducing 8.68 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, which is equivalent to 1,000 gallons of gasoline.

The e-bike sharing program was launched in the three partner communities on June 7 and continued until October 31. During this period, a total of 7,393 trips were completed over a total of 21,735.4 miles, with the average trip being 2.94 miles for approximately 30 minutes. Ninety percent of trips were less than 60 minutes.

“The Shift Bike program has been well utilized and has exceeded the expectations of partner communities and Drop Mobility,” the Vail City Council report states.

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Of these rides, the majority (61%) were revenue rides, with the remaining 38.4% of rides being operated by member locals.

With 90 e-bikes spread across 20 stations in Vail, Avon and EagleVail, most trips were made in Vail (approximately 65%), with nearly 25% in Avon and EagleVail and around 6% of trips between the various communities of the region. .

The report provided to the Vail City Council also highlights that 119 of the trips made were to or from the Booth Lake Trail.

The top six stations (by usage) were in the city of Vail, with the highest usage coming from the city’s two parking structures. Avon Station was the busiest in the city, closely followed by ANB Bank in the heart of the city.

At its city council meeting on Tuesday, November 15, council will be asked to provide direction on the future of the program.

According to the report, customer feedback and suggestions for improvement included an improved website including a map showing bike locations and availability; additional station locations in participating cities as well as expansion into other cities in Eagle County; price complaints and expressed desire for discounts; as well as improvements for security, functionality and more.

For the following year, the report proposed several regional extensions. This includes four additional stations and 15-20 additional bikes in Vail. Some of the locations requested for future stations were Glacier Court, Buffhr Creek Bus Stop, Timber Ridge, and the City Municipal Building.

The report also includes consideration for two or three additional stations and 12 additional bikes at Avon, as well as one or two additional stations and 5 additional bikes at EagleVail. Additionally, he reports that there are currently discussions with Edwards Metro District and the county to bring between four and six Shift e-bike stations (with 20-30 bikes) to Edwards in 2023.

“This will increase ridership in eastern Eagle County and provide additional cross-regional opportunities to use the system and encourage e-bike travel from Edwards to Vail,” Vail’s report said.

Minturn has also been approached to join, however, according to the Vail report, the city is “choosing to wait” until construction of the Eagle Valley Trail is complete, which is scheduled for 2024.

For its first year, Vail contributed $174,440 to the program, Avon contributed $49,840, and EagleVail contributed $24,920. According to the report, in year two, Drop Mobility “indicated that operating costs will increase.”

However, the total cost will also depend on the added stations, bikes and upgrades.