Bike-share kiosks help peddle eco-consciousness in Denver

Kiosk technology is advancing in the ‘green' applications sector, and one of the most recent efforts is Denver's bike share program that employs self-service credit card stations for citizens looking to rent bicycles.

The Denver B-cycle effort, launched in late April, is the nation's first citywide bicycle sharing program aimed at reducing carbon emissions while helping residents get healthier. It's an alternative form of travel for short commutes and errands, say the program's developers.

Vendor KIOSK developed the custom stations that bike riders use to rent wheels. The kiosks use off-grid solar power and low-power consumption component integration, according to the manufacturer, which says market growth is strong in the green sector.

"KIOSK's growth this year has been the steepest in the company's 17-year history. We're working with some exceptionally innovative and aggressive deployments in a newer environmentally conscious solution market," said KIOSK CMO Tom Weaver in a website statement about the Denver program. "KIOSK expects growth in green applications to rise sharply."

Denver's effort is the third North American bike-share program, as Montreal launched a similar effort last summer, and Mexico City debuted a bicycle share this spring. Several U.S. cities are also readying programs to launch this year. Bicycle sharing is huge in Europe and Asia, where more than 50 cities have a program in place.

"Coloradans embrace healthy and sustainable living, so it's natural that the Mile High City is now home to the first large scale bike sharing system in the U.S.," said Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper in a recent press statement.

Bikes are housed at B-stations throughout the city. Users can either register online for a B-cycle card, which are then swiped at kiosks, or use credit cards at the kiosk to access a bike. The program is funded through donations, grants and corporate sponsor support.

"We're excited that so many community partners, foundations and organizations have stepped up to help create Denver B-cycle, " said Parry Burnap, executive director of Denver Bike Sharing, the non-profit that owns and operations the Denver B-cycle system.

The program aims to have 500 bikes at 50 stations by the end of this month. Users can sign up for a seven-day, 30-day or annual membership. They can also purchase $5 24-hour memberships at the kiosk.

The B-cycle bikes will soon be equipped with RFID chips and mini computing systems for tracking mileage, calories used by cyclists and carbon reduction impact.

Users can monitor their personal fitness and view their ‘green contribution,' as well as social network with other B-cycles at the program's public portal site.

There is also an iPhone B-cycle application riders can use to find station locations and ascertain bike availability at each station.

 

"We had the opportunity to design it for today's consumers needs and provide a fully integrated digital ecosystem for our users that combines Web and mobile services. The addition of the iPhone app was an obvious next step," B-cycle president Bob Burns said in a press statement.

 

The software also lets riders interact with fellow cyclists using popular social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

 

"The B-cycle system provides the user with a seamless integration between the bike computer, kiosk hardware and Web services," Burns said. "In the coming months, the applications open source API's will be released to the public, and at that time we hope to see other developers create new B-cycle applications for the iPhone as well as applications for other smart phones."

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