The City of Vancouver is still standing by its promise to introduce bike sharing, but it’s going to have to wait. Despite being one of mayor Gregor Robertson’s dearest, longest-held plans for transportation in the city, its roll-out is on hold until results of the regional transit plebiscite roll in.
It’s the latest obstacle in the initiative to make Vancouver bike-sharing a reality, a process beset by hurdles going back to January 2014, when the original equipment vendor, Bixi, went bankrupt. At the time, Vancouver planned to use Alta Bicycle Share to operate the service. But when Bixi, the source of Alta’s rides, went under, so did the plan. In the months since, Alta shook up its management and renamed itself Motivate, but progress in building further momentum appeared to stall around that point.
Now it’s the city itself that’s putting on the brakes, representatives from Motivate told the Province.
“We are basically in a holding pattern,” Motivate sources said. “The city wanted to slow things down because they thought the results of the transit plebiscite would guide plans.”
The Vancouver bike sharing plan calls for a fleet of 1,500 bikes to be docked at 125 solar-powered bike stations throughout the city — 2,850 docks in all, according to published information. Its service area, located in the downtown peninsula, is bordered by Arbutus Street, 12th Avenue and Main Street, a high-density mixed area of residences, businesses and offices ideal for quick hops on a bike. Though the selection of exact locations is still pending, however, the plan is for those stations to be spaced every two to three blocks apart. Helmet vending, too, will be part of the network.
It’s unclear how the results of the transit referendum would impact those plans, but from reports, the question of whether or not Vancouver will be funding a new Broadway subway– the city’s main goal in the plebiscite — suggests that bankrolling the bike sharing program, should such a line item find itself in the budget, may be an issue. The city’s financial commitment to the program would be $20 million to be paid out over 10 years. As the Province reports, though, none of that funding has yet been paid.
So when is the earliest you’ll be riding a rented steed on downtown streets? It’s unknown for certain, of course, but results of the regional transit plebiscite are expected late this month.