Starting tomorrow (June 12), Vancouverites will have the chance to test-run a bike-share program, which has recently gained popularity in Montreal as a cheap, environmentally-friendly, and around-the-clock transit system.
From Friday to Monday (June 15), the City of Vancouver will be hosting a public bike-system demonstration along the seawall area of Science World.
The demonstration is an initiative of the Greenest City Action Team, a group created in February by Mayor Gregor Robertson and charged with transforming Vancouver into the greenest city in the world by 2020. The team is composed of renowned environmental consultants, academics, city planners, and scientists, including David Suzuki.
The Greenest City team first expressed interest in creating a bike-share program back in April with the release of its Quick Start Recommendations report. Along with the bike system, the document suggested other green initiatives like promoting car-free days, supporting farmer markets, and banning water bottles.
The weekend’s demonstration will inform people about bike-share programs and provide the opportunity to test-ride one of the bikes. The organizers of the event are also hoping to gather feedback from the public on how the system—already adopted by Montreal and various European cities—can be adapted for Vancouver.
The bikes will be provided by Bixi, the self-serve bike-taxi program used in Montreal. Since its citywide set-up last month, Bixi now offers 3,000 public bikes at 300 stations strategically placed around Montreal, as well as a clever mobile app that allows users to locate the closest station and check on the availability of bikes in a neighbourhood.
Bike stations are powered by solar panels and include bike docks, bikes, and a pay station. Typically, rentals are free so long as a bike is returned to another station within 30 minutes with a subscription.
Earlier this week, Ottawa and Gatineau, Quebec, announced that they would be launching a Bixi trial. In Montreal, the system is only operational from May to November due to harsh winter conditions—a problem that would obviously not affect a bike-share program in Vancouver.
The demonstration will take place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday and Monday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. A helmet will be needed to test-ride a Bixi bike.