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This holiday season, the cycling scene in Hamilton, Ont. is also celebrating a success story that the CBC describes as “surprising,” with its local bike-sharing outfit nearly a year old this month. The service is called SoBi—for “social bicycles”—Hamilton, and by all accounts, it’s catching on.

The numbers clocked by some riders, reports say, attest to that more than anything.

In characterizing the service’s local success, the CBC notes the story of Owen Anderson, a 54-year-old cyclist who makes regular use of SoBi’s bike-sharing options. A magician who performs for kids, Anderson makes frequent, long-haul trips on SoBi’s fleet of utility bikes. As of this month, reports say, the cyclist has racked up approximately 2154.88 kilometres since May, 2015—about 10 km per day, or 300 km in a month.

Anderson, reports say, has earned the honour of being the system’s top user through the numbers, something that puts him ahead of nearly 7,300 cyclists in the city. With those numbers, the Cinderella story of Sobi Hamilton has taken many by surprise, even officials.

“We’ve been really pleased at how well-received it’s been,” Chelsea Cox, the service’s community manager, told CBC reporters. Notably, those who wouldn’t have previously counted themselves among the ranks of southern Ontario cyclists are those who best attest to its success. Seniors, those with health concerns and those simply interested in more active transportation, reports say, are among the demographics who have propelled Sobi’s rise. The priority now, the CBC reports, is in looking for ways to expand upon that success.

There’s also the unique features of the service, like text messages received by riders that indicate where a bike has been locked up, that have boosted its appeal. Above all, the hard numbers demonstrate how well-received the system has been in the Hamilton, Ont. area. Averaging rides of 19 minutes, and a distance of 2.16 km, the service’s 750 bikes and 115 hubs throughout the city have been the chariots of a staggering number of riders in less than a year. 7,300 users take advantage of SoBi, and of those, more than 60 per cent say they wouldn’t have considered themselves riders before signing up.

The numbers of those introduced to cycling, of course, may be the most meaningful metric of all.With SoBi’s striking blue bikes visible throughout the city within the service’s freshman year of operation, Owen Anderson, no doubt, is likely to be joined by other devotees in the coming months.


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