While Mobi is busy expanding within Vancouver’s city limits, three Metro Vancouver suburbs will soon be home to their own bike-sharing service.
The municipalities of Port Moody, Port Coquitlam, and Richmond have partnered with the locally based U-bicycle to launch a dockless bike-share program. At no cost to the cities, U-bicycle will deploy a number of silver-and-lime-green bikes—each equipped with a helmet, basket, headlight, bell, and built-in smart lock—that residents and visitors in the region may rent for short-term use.
The platform is expected to roll out in Port Moody and Port Coquitlam this summer, with Richmond joining before the end of September.
Unlike Vancouver’s Mobi system, U-bicycle operates without docking stations, so users are not restricted to certain locations when dropping off their bikes. Instead, they may leave them at public bike racks and “spaces that do not affect traffic”.
In addition, U-bicycle states that it will create designated parking zones near high-density areas and transit and cycling routes in the three municipalities. The company will also deliver bicycle racks with virtual docking technology at sites with no existing infrastructure.
Like with a car-sharing service, users locate and unlock U-bicycle’s bikes using a Bluetooth-assisted smartphone app. The company offers a pay-as-you-go model, in which a 30-minute ride is only $1. Users are charged once they park the bike in an appropriate drop-off area and end the trip on the app.
Day passes ($15 for unlimited 30-minute rides for 24 hours) and annual passes ($150 for unlimited 60-minute rides for 12 months) are also available.
U-bicycle’s partnerships with Port Moody, Port Coquitlam, and Richmond will help the cities better facilitate sustainable transportation while improving the quality of life for residents. “As a regular cyclist, I know the value of having access to a bike to do short trips and even fill in the ‘last mile’ on longer trips, such as visitors arriving by SkyTrain,” Mike Clay, mayor of Port Moody, said in a news release. “I’m very excited to see U-bicycle coming to our community for those trips and to help people that might not own their own bike have the opportunity to enjoy riding around our city.”
“The establishment of a public bike share system that allows residents and visitors to access affordable and convenient bicycles for short-distance trips would provide a number of community benefits that support the city's mobility, carbon reduction, and economic development goals,” added Sonali Hingorani, transportation engineer, and Joan Caravan, transportation planner for the City of Richmond.
U-bicycle’s entrance into Port Moody, Port Coquitlam, and Richmond is part of a Western Canadian expansion that will see the company deploying approximately 5,000 bikes in the region by early 2019. Launched in 2017 by a team of Simon Fraser University alumni, the business operates the bike-share program in Victoria. It owns the largest dockless bike fleet in Western Canada.