BIKE SHARING: Downtown Des Moines workers head to lunch or run errands on two wheels

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It can seem like a waste of time and gas to drive your car around town for lunch, but there's a way to get everything done on two wheels.

It just takes a swipe of a card for Steve Falck to start heading to work. He "checks out" a bike with the B-cycle bike sharing program. He says, "It's just a very convenient mode of transportation." Falck hops on a bike at a kiosk at 13th Street and Grand Avenue. Then, he pedals to work. He says, "I can get on here, ride to the next kiosk park it and then just walk to the office."

Falck is one of about 420 B-cycle members. The program launched last fall in downtown Des Moines. It opened for its second season last month. Des Moines Bicycle Collective Chair Carl Voss says, "The B-cycle offers a chance to get on a bike when it's too far to walk and it really doesn't make sense to drive your car."

He says you can by a daily pass for $5 or a yearly membership for $50. You can use the bike whenever you want, but you must return it to a kiosk when not in use. Voss says, "The system is designed for short trips of one to three miles." He goes on to say, "$5 lets you use the bike all day as long as each trip is not more than an hour."

You'll currently find four kiosks in the city of Des Moines. The busiest one is in Western Gateway Park at 13th Street and Grand Avenue. The others are at Principal Park, Brenton Skating Plaza and downtown at 7th Street and Grand Avenue. But, organizers say they hope to have more in the future.

Voss says, "We could easily see 100 bikes and 12 or more kiosks in downtown Des Moines, but it's going to take involvement by the corporations and foundations to help us get there." Voss says it took $120,000 from public and private places to launch the program last fall. He says so far members have burned more than 300,000 calories and saved 7,000 pounds of carbon emissions from going into the atmosphere.

Falck says that number could be higher with more bike sharing stations. He says, "If we get more kiosks, it will be more convenient and we'll have more riders, less congestion and less traffic."

Des Moines is the fifth city in the United States to offer a B-cycle program. Chicago, Denver and Madison are just a few of the nine cities that now offer bike sharing.

Click here for more B-cycle information.