A public bike-share system is expected to roll out in Vancouver in early 2014, according to a report going before city council next week.
City staff are asking for council’s authorization to formalize an agreement with Portland-based Alta Bicycle Share, which will subcontract the bike-share program to Bixi. An initial contribution of up to $6 million to Alta is being recommended for the installation of the system, in addition to $1 million for initial city costs, and $500,000 annually for staffing and other expenses associated with the program.
Staff are also recommending negotiations with third parties, including public agencies, the private sector, and philanthropic organizations, for financial or in-kind support of the bike-share program, which would offset the city’s costs for the project.
The initial launch of the program is expected to involve about 25 stations and 250 bikes located downtown, plus helmet vending machines and return receptacles.
The system will include a network of bicycle stations aimed at encouraging short trips. Users will be able to rent bikes at one location and return to another as part of a 24-hour system. Eventually, the program is slated to include 1,500 bikes at 125 stations, in an area that will include downtown and stretch to 12th Avenue, between Main and Arbutus streets.
According to the staff report, a receptacle for returning helmets is still in the design stage.
“Alta/PBSC is confident with their ability to have helmet vending machines and return receptacles ready for both phases of the PBS system launch, including hardware, software and helmet rental and return processes,” the document reads.
The vending machines will include two sizes of low-priced helmets, according to the report. When helmets are returned, they will go to a facility for sanitization and inspected before being rented out again. Rentals “will be priced to encourage users to reuse the helmet for multiple trips," and users will be charged for not returning helmets.
The city plans to avoid issuing permits for stations within a 50-metre area from bike rental shops. Some bike-rental operators in the West End expressed their concerns to city council last June about the potential negative impacts of the bike-share program on their businesses.
At that time, staff estimated the bike-share program would be launched in the spring of 2013.
“While staff see significant value in developing a Public Bike Share system in Vancouver, implementing the world’s first Public Bike Share system with an integrated helmet system has taken considerable time and effort, and has represented challenges beyond those experienced in most other cities who do not have a mandatory helmet law,” the report released today (July 17) indicates.
The proposed fees for using the public bike-share program are $95 for an annual membership, $20 for a weekly membership, and $5 for a daily membership. Under all memberships, the first 30 minutes will be free, and cyclists will pay $1.50 to $2 for between 30 to 60 minutes of use, and $5 to $6 for 60 to 90 minutes.
The report will go before council next Tuesday (July 23).