By Roy L Hales
Miami based CycleHop is already operating bike share programs in more than 100 communities and universities in the United States and Canada. New programs are currently under development in Long Beach (CA), West Hollywood (CA), Atlanta (GA), Cleveland (OH), and Louisville (KY). However the biggest news comes from across the border where, according to the city’s Manager of Street Activities, Scott Edwards, Vancouver will have North America’s largest smart bike share.[1. Roy L Hales interview with Scott Edwards, the City of Vancouver’s Manager of Street Activities]
“We will be the largest smart bike system within North America, but there are larger public bike share systems in New York and Chicago,” said Edwards.
He described the difference between a “smart bike share” and a conventional system is where you put the “brains.” In a smart system they are on the bicycles, which allows users to go online (via a computer, cel phone, or kiosk) and see how many stations or docks are in close proximity to you.
“So whether you want to take a bike out, or find a spot to make sure you can return a bike, that information is available on the web,” said Edwards.
The technology is supplied by the French company Smoove, which is expanding into North America. Smoove also has a contract, in partnership with CycleHop, in Chicago.
“Vancouver is one of the best cycling cities in North America and an ideal place for quick bike share trips around town. CycleHop looks forward to serving the community with a new convenient and healthy transit option, starting this summer,” said CycleHop Founder and CEO Josh Squire, in the press release.
“Vancouver’s cycling numbers are skyrocketing and we’ve been hearing from many residents wanting a bike share network here. Public bike share will extend the reach of transit and walking trips and will be a great way for people to move around Vancouver, while supporting our Healthy City and Greenest City goals,” added Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson.
“We’re thrilled to hear public bike share will launch in Vancouver this year, and join the over 500 cities around the world that already have systems running,” says Erin O’Melinn, Executive Director of HUB Cycling. “Public bike share provides a convenient and fun way to get around the metro core and relieves people from having to worry about bike maintenance, theft, or storage while still providing all the spin-off benefits of biking.”
Vancouver signed a five year, $5 million, agreement with CycleHop Canada to operate the program.
“The initial launch will be in our downtown core, our central Broadway area south of 16th and between Main and Arbutus. There are many, many short trips. These are some of the greatest transit destinations. This provides some of the best options going to and from work, or for pleasure, or a quick trip to go shopping. This will change how people move around the city, ” said Edwards.
CycleHop will provide 1,500 ‘smart bikes’, complete with payment interface, locking technology and helmets, at 150 stations across Vancouver. One hundred of these stations will participate in the initial launch on June 15, 2016 and the system should be fully deployed by the end of the summer.
Users can sign up for use on a single day or longer periods of time.
“We want to see this system do very well and, with that, they would want to grow. There are some existing growth areas, even within our RFP when we’ve sought out a partner for this program. There are neighbourhoods to the East and West that are natural areas for expansion. We are hoping that, whether it be to 2,500 or even more, this is something we see in the future,” said Edwards.
He added, “Public bike share systems are seen as an extension of existing modes of transportation, to compliment our overall transportation 2040 goals for people to walk, bike and take transit.”
Top Image: The Dunsmuir Separated Bike Lane (2011) by Paul Krueger via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)