Solar Charging Aspen’s E-Bikes: An Inspiring PBSC Success StoryMarch 25, 2022 — City series
City Series: Aspen
With an active outdoor culture and lifestyle that thrives on health, wellness, and protecting our environment, Aspen has been enthusiastic about its public bike share program for almost a decade, since 2013! That’s when PBSC Urban Solutions, in partnership with local operator WE-cycle, pioneered the first bike share outside of a metropolitan area in the US and initially deployed a small-but-mighty fleet of 100 our sturdy ICONIC bikes and 13 smart stations.
Fast forward nine years since its inception, and the expanded system is now stocked with 232 PBSC ICONIC bikes, 51 of our smart stations, and the fresh rollout of 52 E-FIT (26 e-bikes for the moment), our light and lively electric pedal-assist bikes, ideal commuting companions for the ups and downs of Aspen's hilly landscape. Today, the popular bike share network covers not only Aspen, but also Basalt and Snowmass Village.
Nestled in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley, surrounded by the beauty of mountains, water, and nature, this ski town of 7,000 inhabitants is renowned as a resort destination for the world’s most passionate skiers, hikers, snowboarders, mountain bikers, spa-lovers, and adventure-seekers. Which brings us back to PBSC bike share! Aspen’s bike share, WE-cycle, operates seasonally, and disappears during snowy winter months. The rest of the year, locals and tourists love using our bikes for commutes, errands, and enjoying the great outdoors.
Sustainable transportation benefits of PBSC bikes are many. Efficient, enjoyable, and eco-friendly, bike-sharing is good for cities, citizens, and the planet. In fact, the City of Aspen’s eco-friendly initiatives include a Climate Action Plan, in which cycling infrastructure plays a part among sustainable transportation solutions.
Project Success: Solar-Powered E-Bike Charging
On that note, we’re thrilled to have been part of a pilot project with WE-cycle and Skyhook Solar, which introduced to the bike share system two new solar-powered e-bike charging stations made specifically for our E-FIT e-bikes — and totally sustainable thanks to solar power.
Craig Turpin of Rising Sun Photography.
A happy union between Skyhook Solar’s large and powerful solar panels and PBSC’s beloved smart stations, these new solar-powered e-bike stations differ from PBSC’s other solar stations in that the solar energy provided by these premium panels provides enough power to charge up the e-bikes docked at the stations.
Realizing this project involved a meeting of the minds between WE-cycle and PBSC and Skyhook Solar’s electrical engineers and R&D teams. According to a report by WE-cycle Aspen, these solar-powered e-bike charging stations are the first operational in the U.S. of this kind. Reflecting the importance of sustainable transport, the report explains that part of the inspiration behind this innovation was finding a sustainable strategy to get more electric bikes into WE-cycle’s network and meet the urban transport needs and desires of its users (who seem to adore PBSC e-bikes)!
We Care, We Share, We Believe
According to WE-cycle’s 2021 data, even though e-bikes account for only about 10 percent of the network’s fleet, they were used for 32 percent of all WE-cycle rides, with more than 16,500 e-bike rides taken that year. Add renewable solar energy to the mix, and solar-powered e-bikes couldn’t be more in sync with WE-cycle’s eco-friendly aspirations. As outlined in their report, bike share reduces greenhouse gas emissions and traffic and during the pilot project, their data reveals, cyclists saved the equivalent of 25,749 km (16,000 miles) driven in a car, or 6,119 kg (13,667 lbs) of carbon dioxide, while 224.5 kg (495 lbs) of CO2 were saved simply by charging the e-bikes with solar power.
Craig Turpin of Rising Sun Photography.
“This collaborative solar-powered e-bike charging pilot project is electrifying both in its impact and in its affirmation of our values as it helps us achieve our mission of carbon neutral transportation. We are grateful to our innovative and committed partners, PBSC and Skyhook Solar, who together, are leading a new era of sustainable-bikeshare. We look forward to expanding this initiative and inspiring more cities to power e-bikes by the sun,” says Mirte Mallory, WE-cycle’s Co-Founder and Executive Director.
“PBSC is proud to have had this valuable opportunity to collaborate with the City of Aspen, WE-cycle, and the bright minds at Skyhook Solar to come together to develop this amazing innovation for solar-charging e-bikes” says Gian-Carlo Crivello, CRO of PBSC. “Our great relationship with Aspen and WE-cycle goes way back, and the privilege of being part of the evolution of this beautiful city’s bike share system showcases precisely how we aspire to empower cities to be smarter and more sustainable."
And that’s just the beginning: The pilot project was such a triumph that later this year, WE-cycle will grow yet again to include 52 of our E-FIT e-bikes and 7 solar-powered e-charging stations! Certainly, staying connected to the great outdoors is part of Aspen’s identity and PBSC is proud to help WE-cycle achieve its eco-friendly goals by embracing and innovating the collective power of bike share.
To learn more about PBSC's global impact, smart cities, or to get industry news and updates on technologies and events, sign up for the PBSC newsletter today.