Since I first heard about public bicycle systems, I’ve been a big fan. Over the past few years, bike sharing systems like Paris’ Vélib’, London’s Barclays Cycle Hire, Montreal’s Bixi, and Denver’s B-cycle have popped up around the world. Gordon Price at Price Tags notes that there were 146 new public bike-sharing (PBS) systems established between 2008 and 2010. This is a new one every five days. And now one may be finally coming to Vancouver.
Public bicycle systems offer affordable access to bicycles for short trips inside the city. Bike sharing provides an alternative to buses and cars, reducing traffic congestion, noise and air-pollution. This leads to a more livable and sustainable city.
The City of Vancouver is currently exploring whether to start a self-serve public bicycle system on our streets. Jack Christie from The Georgia Straight recently wrote an in-depth article on the history and challenges of bringing a public bike system to the city. One of the biggest envisioned impediments to the success of bike sharing is the province’s bicycle helmet law. A similar laws in Melbourne, Australia have severely limited the success of that city’s program. It will be interesting to see how this is dealt with here.
Information Session: Public Bicycle System
To learn more about public bicycle systems and offer your opinion, the city is hosting two open houses this week:
Wednesday, June 29 from 7 am to 2 pm. Library Square, 350 West Georgia, Promenade;
Thursday, June 30 from 11 am to 8 pm at Pendulum Gallery, 885 West Georgia Street.
If you can’t make it to a session, a survey is available online for you to give your input. From more information, you can check out the city’s display boards. You can also check out the results from an earlier public bicycle system survery.
[From the City of Vancouver]
A modern public bicycle system (PBS) is an automated, integrated system that provides bicycles for short-term use for a fee. The bicycles are parked at convenient, secure, user-friendly self-service automated stations and users may check out bicycles at one station and return them to any other station. Re-distribution of the bicycles ensures there are enough bicycles and docks available for users.
The idea of public bicycle systems has been around for many years, from its earliest incarnation as the White Bicycles in Amsterdam and the Yellow Bicycles in France to the high-tech systems of the present.
Recent PBS implementations in other cities, such as Paris, Lyon, and Montreal, have shown that, in addition to supporting active and healthy living, public bicycle systems:
a. Extend the reach of transit and walking trips;
b. Reduce transit trips to help ease transit capacity issues; and
c. Typically trigger renewed interest and participation in cycling in general.
The City promotes cycling as an part of daily life in Vancouver and is committed to providing bicycle services to both residents and visitors. To that end, in March 2009, Vancouver City Council approved a motion directing staff to explore opportunities to start a PBS. Additionally, the City’s Greenest City Team identified the implementation of a public bicycle system as one of the eight GCAT Quick Start Actions (44 in total).
In April 2011, the City released a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEOI) to invite applications from interested parties to develop, install, own, operate and finance a Public Bicycle System in the City of Vancouver, targeting launch in spring 2012 or earlier. City staff are reviewing the responses to this RFEOI and will present their results to Council this summer. Council will then decide whether to pursue a PBS in Vancouver.
If a PBS implementation is pursued, other public consultation will take place in the fall of 2011.
For More Information
For more information, e-mail the Bicycle Hotline at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional information on public bicycle systems in other cities can be found on the The Bike-sharing Blog.
For further information on cycling in Vancouver, please visit our Bike Vancouver Facebook page.