Vancouver public bike-share system expected to launch in spring 2013
Vancouver is expecting to launch a public bike-share system by spring 2013, city council heard today (June 13).
The city’s transportation director Jerry Dobrovolny said the city has identified Portland-based company Alta Bicycle Share, which is working with subcontractor Bixi, as a preferred proponent for operating the system.
It's estimated the system will cost up to $1.9 million a year over the next 10 years. Full details of the contract and the costs will go back to council for approval in the fall.
“It would take the form of an upfront capital contribution, and an annual amount that we would contribute, and we would contribute it in a number of ways,” said Dobrovolny.
The system that the city is considering, based on a 2009 City of Vancouver and TransLink study, would consist of 1,500 bikes and 125 stations in the downtown and metro core area, with an integrated helmet rental system. The bike rental stations would be placed every two to three blocks and would accommodate approximately 200 bikes.
Some of Vancouver’s independent bike rental operators told council they’re concerned that a public bike-share system will impact their business.
Joe Kainer of English Bay Bike Rentals cited what he called “disastrous” effects of a public bike-share program on bicycle rental shops in Montreal.
“The unintended effect in the bike rental industry could be massive,” he told council.
“Montreal introduced such a system on a large scale, and within a few years, only a couple of the city’s once-many bicycle rental operations remained.”
Vision Vancouver councillor Heather Deal said the bike share system would be promoted as a short-term commuter option, rather than the tourism-focused rental service offered at current bike rental shops.
“I think there’s room for both of those types of businesses,” Deal told reporters. “They’re both quite distinct types of businesses.”
“We need to make sure the system is set up in such a way that it’s a disincentive to use these short-term rentals for a day of sight-seeing.”
Council heard that a typical pricing scheme, based on the bike-share model used in Toronto, consists of free use of the bike for the first 30 minutes, $1.50 for up to 60 minutes, a $4 charge for 61 to 90 minutes, and $8 for every subsequent 30-minute period. Annual, monthly, 72-hour and 24-hour subscription fee options are also available as part of that city's system.
Dobrovolny noted the details of a helmet rental component of the public bike-share system have not yet been worked out. No successful integrated helmet models exist in the world today, according to the transportation director.
The city will now be launching consultations on the proposed system with stakeholders including bike rental operators, said Dobrovolny.
The city issued a request for expressions of interest to potential operators in April 2011, and six proponents responded. Two of those applicants, including Alta Bicycle Share, were shortlisted.
Dobrovolny said the awarding of the contract will be contingent on the proponent meeting several criteria, including an integrated helmet solution.