Vancouver set to launch bike sharing program
Published Saturday, March 21, 2009 4:31PM PDT
It will soon be a lot easier for Vancouver residents to leave their cars at home and jump on a bike.
The city is preparing to implement a bike share program that would allow commuters pay a nominal fee to "borrow" a bicycle for short term use. If it succeeds, the plan could see as many as three-thousand "shared" bikes hitting the streets by next summer.
Spring weather has finally arrived and with it a flood of people wanting to enjoy it on two wheels. Vancouver is big on biking. That's because of the scenic routes around Stanley Park and dedicated bike lanes throughout city neighbourhoods.
If Council has its way, this already popular mode of transport will get even bigger.
Councillor Raymond Louie is putting forward a motion to set up a "bike sharing" program. For a nominal fee - anyone would be able to pick-up a bike for quick trip and then simply drop it off near their destination.
"These are for short trips that people will make within a couple of blocks or ten blocks or so," he said.
Here is how it would work:
If the would-be cyclist is leaving the office and decides that it's just too nice a day to head home on the bus, he or she could just wander over to the corner kiosk and pay a couple of bucks to pick up a bike for a few hours.
"When people take these bikes they actually free up space on the roads from the cars and they also free up space on the transit system as well," said Louie.
Similar plans are already working in cities such as Paris and getting rave reviews.
Here at home, the idea is viewed as a good way to get more people into biking.
"People are reluctant to put in the investment, they're apprehensive maybe about getting on the streets, buying a bike, the whole thing,'' said Lisa Slakov of the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition.
"If they have an opportunity to hop on one of these bikes, go around, try it out, they can realize it's just sheer pleasure," she said.
Of course there is the problem of theft. Vancouver-based credit union VanCity started a trial bike share program two years ago.
According to VanCity website at the end of the test - only 22 of 45 bikes had been returned. But Councillor Louie is confident the kinks can be worked out and the plan could be a big success.
"My hope is that we have three thousand bikes by the summer of 2010 and we can see all these people riding our bikes," he said.
With a report by CTV British Columbia's Stephen Smart