Today Vancouver city engineer Jerry Dobrovolny shed some light on Vancouver’s long awaited public bike share program. A program that the city has been studying since 2008. The expected launch date for Vancouver is now set for spring 2013 (Portland is looking to do the same). Furthermore, there will be no pilot project in place in time for the Velo-City cycling conference.
Frances Bula (@FaBulaVancouver) live tweeted the conference and provided some new insight to the topic. We took her insight from the conference and paired it with existing knowledge to break down the Vancouver public bike share project.
Who will be contracted to build the system?
City staff are recommending that the city have a third-party owner-operator for VIXI aka Vancouver’s bike share program. Vancouver is currently in negotiation with Alta Bicycle Share from Portland. They would team up with Montreal’s BIXI to deploy the system. However, no firm answer as to who the supplier will be is available at press time. Looks like Vancouver’s co-op won’t win the contract.
Costs to implement Vancouver’s Bike Share Program
The majority of the costs will be borne by the company that wins the rights to Vancouver’s bike share system. The city will have to contribute upfront capital of $1.9 million to be amortized over 10 years. However, it should be noted that Montreal’s BIXI program is a financial mess and had to be bailed out by the city. Could the same happen here in Vancouver? This scenario could very well play out, especially if the system is underused due to the mandatory helmet law.
Operators and not the city will cover costs for repairs, maintenance and stolen bikes.
What about the issues of the mandatory helmet law
Dobrovolny: “To be blunt, there’s no successful integrated helmet system in place today”. So what does Vancouver decide to do, to build a bike share program with the mandatory helmet law in place. Perhaps we’ll be the exception and the program will succeed. However, if other cities couldn’t make it work, what makes Vancouver so special. Unless the city chooses to ignore the helmetless riders, this will doom the public bike share system. The debate rages on…
Number of stations and distance covered
Proposed Vancouver bike-share system: 1500 bikes, 125 stations every 2 to 3 blocks. The area covered will be downtown plus Broadway Arbutus to Main. Surprised that Commercial Drive was left out.
How Does Bike Share Work?
Bike rental shops fear the arrival of public bike share
Joe Gainor of English Bay Bike Rentals stated that the Montreal private bike rental business was all but wiped out since the introduction of the public bike share program there. Other rental shop owners shared his concerns.
The majority of the shop rentals are for strolls around the seawall. If the bike share program can somehow manage to prevent those bikes on the seawall it could save these businesses. Not sure how that will be enforced though. The city will have to do something about these fears as they are valid and can’t be dismissed so easily. Currently the city has stated that no bike rental stations will be placed near existing bike rental shops.
Others that may want to fear the bike share system are the cab companies and TransLink.
Currently over 300 cities in the world have bike share programs. Vancouver has been slow to adopt this, the primary reason for the delay has been the mandatory helmet law. We’ll have more details as they are announced.
Image: Vancouver Cycle Chic