After four years of hopeful murmurs and false starts, the City of Vancouver, BC is finally getting a public bike share. The City announced the rollout at a regular council meeting this morning, with 1,000 bikes across 100 stations set to be in operation in summer of 2016. An additional 500 bikes and 50 stations are planned to be put in place by the end of 2016. The city’s operating partner will be CycleHop, the largest “smart bike” bike share program operator in North America.
“Vancouver’s cycling numbers are skyrocketing and we’ve been hearing from many residents wanting a bike share network here,” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson in a press release. “Public bike share will extend the reach of transit and walking trips and will be a great way for people to move around Vancouver, while supporting our Healthy City and Greenest City goals.”
Vancouver is home to a robust cycling population by North American standards. With a mild climate and generally active population, the mountainous coastal city enjoys a cycling mode share of 4.3%, reaching as high as 15% in some neighborhoods. The public bike share will continue on encouraging residents to cycle, while also providing easy access to bicycles for the city’s many tourists, or last-mile transportation needs for people making day trips in from neighboring cities.
Vancouver signed a 5-year agreement with CycleHop, which uses a “Smart Bike” payment and unlocking system within the bike itself, similar to Car2Go. The docking systems are solar-powered, and helmets (to comply with Vancouver’s mandatory helmet law) will be provided at no additional cost to the user. The city will be providing $5 million CAD to launch the system, as well as a limited amount of in-kind support through the duration of their contract.
Public bike share is a great compliment to public transportation and walkability, enabling car-free residents and visitors to easily access low-cost, temporary bike rentals with just the swipe of a card. Vancouver’s Greenest City and Healthy City goals are admirable, and the public bike share is a great step forward in implementing them.
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