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Old 06-15-2012, 08:54 PM   #1
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Vancouver to launch subsidized public bike system for commuters

The program will cost Vancouver taxpayers about $1.9 million a year

Vancouver to launch subsidized public bike system for commuters

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Vancouver will launch a subsidized public bike system for commuters next year for people who don't want to use buses, taxis or their own vehicles.

The program, which will cost Vancouver taxpayers about $1.9 million a year, is being modelled after similar public bike rental programs taking hold in major cities around the world, including Paris, Montreal, London, Washington and Toronto.

On Wednesday Vancouver council was told the city had narrowed down a list of potential operators to a single company, Alta Bicycle Share of Portland, Oregon, which plans to install 1,500 bikes at 125 self-service stations throughout the downtown and along the Broadway corridor. The company will use special gear-driven hard rubber-tired bicycles built by BIXI Public Bicycles System Co. of Quebec. The companies will also have to provide various-sized helmets to meet provincial helmet laws.

The program, which is expected to be launched by the spring of 2013, would allow people to buy daily, weekly, monthly or yearly memberships from Alta. They would then be able to pick up a bike at any of the locations and would be billed based on how long they use it.

Jerry Dobrovolny, Vancouver's director of transportation, said the concept is aimed at commuters who would use the bikes for a few blocks and then return them to any of the stations in the area. "This is to provide another transit option within the city," he said, adding it's aimed at both commuters and tourists.

"The learnings we've had from other cities is that it has transformed some car trips into some cycling, walking and transit trips. We know that it provides opportunity for people who are already in the downtown to get around."

He said Vancouver has opted to use a system operated by a third party such as Alta, similar to models used in Toronto, Paris, Minneapolis and New York. It looked at city-owned programs like those used in Washington, D.C. and Barcelona, Spain, and concluded there were too many financial risks.

Under the proposed model, each of Alta's stations would hold up to 20 bikes at a time and largely be located in public metered parking areas. Dobrovolny said the city is still in negotiations and isn't disclosing the entire subsidy it would have to offer Alta to make the program work, But he said a portion of costs would be in the form of foregone parking meter revenues.

There are no public bike systems in the world that are not subsidized, he said, but operate on the theory that they provide a larger society benefit that compensates for the subsidy.

In Toronto, where the program has been in place since last year, membership rates run from $95 annually or $40 a month down to $5 for a single day. Subscribers then pay $1.50 for the first hour and $4 for up to 90 minutes' use. Dobrovolny said rates for Vancouver have yet to be worked out but that they may be comparable.

Cities that have installed public bike systems have seen an increase in cycling and a decline in automobile use, he said. "We've seen mode shift changes in other cities, both in the form of spur-of-the-moment decisions as well as transformational change in converting car trips to other modes."

The proposed program received an enthusiastic thumbs up from Vision Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, an avid cyclist who said the city needs to offer more public transportation alternatives that will help take cars off streets.

"Obviously there are many good reasons for a public bike system being created. That's why we're seeing hundreds of cities pursue this idea," he said.

The idea has long been championed by bike-friendly politicians, including Robertson and former Non-Partisan Association Coun. Peter Ladner.

But commercial bike rental companies that have built a thriving industry renting bikes to tourists who ride them around Stanley Park say they're worried the public bike system will put them out of business.

"We want to make sure the subsidized public bicycle system doesn't dramatically undercut the private rental industry," said Geoff Sharein, the product manager at Spokes Bicycle Rentals.

He told council that in other cities where a public system had been put in place, the operators had installed stations directly in front of existing rental companies, causing business to decline by as much as 25 per cent.

He suggested the city insist on memberships and rental rates that discourage tourists from using the bikes, especially since they aren't designed for touring. That would also protect the business of the 12 commercial rental bike companies near Stanley Park, he said.

Sharein's concerns touched a nerve with city councillors, who said that while a public bicycle system makes sense, it shouldn't come at the expense of existing small companies.

"I am really pleased they brought their concerns forward. I think there is plenty of room for both of these types of businesses, which are quite distinct," said Coun. Heather Deal. "We need to set up the system in such a way that it is a disincentive to use short-term rentals for a day of sightseeing."

Deal said she's not troubled by the idea of the city subsidizing a public bike system.

"We spend tens of millions of dollars a year on roads. We spend millions of dollars a year on infrastructure which supports a transit system. This is just another part of what we do as a city to support all the modes of transportation need to use."

Dobrovolny said he expects to bring a contract back to council to sign in the fall, with a soft launch of the system in the spring before a full rollout in the summer.
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Old 06-15-2012, 08:58 PM   #2
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City of van should contract this to a car share co that already has the infrastructure/equipment/technology to do it.

If the car companies have not done it, there must be a good reason.

also - the rates dont make sense
$1.50 for 1 hr
$4 for 1.5 hrs?

can't I just rent it for 2 hrs and pay $3?

or did i not understand that correctly?
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Old 06-15-2012, 09:06 PM   #3
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like them smart cars now rather pay 2.25 or the escalating bus fares for a quicker, less exhausting trip to where i need to go then 1.50 for an hour and 4 dollars for 1.5 and be sweating my balls off by the time i get there lol
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Old 06-15-2012, 09:07 PM   #4
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Not bad, but they should definitely require cyclists to purchase insurance. $2-3 dollars a day?
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Old 06-15-2012, 09:10 PM   #5
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$1.9 million that could be going to expand transit service in Vancouver and the region. Nobody is going to ride their bicycle in the winter time when it's cold, raining, and/or snowing.

The city needs to stop with this bicycle expansion.

What the city needs is bus and SkyTrain infrastructure. Bus service reliability needs to be increased. This can be achieved by introducing more bus-only lanes in the city rather than bike lanes.

These bicycle lanes are taking up a lane of traffic. That one lane of traffic could be used to move hundreds of people in an hour on bus while one bicycle lane moves what 10-20 people an hour?
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Old 06-15-2012, 09:13 PM   #6
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wonder how the company is going to maintain these god damn bikes too. brake pads and cables on bikes dont last long, nor does the lubrication especially with these bikes possibly sitting outside exposed to the environment. doesn't seem like the bikes will always be at a top notch 100% working condition. its like you crash cause the cables snap. does this mean we can sue the company? lulzz

i pretty much have to maintain my own bike quite frequently for it to be working top notch, and my bike ain't some cheap pos china junk either
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Old 06-15-2012, 09:22 PM   #7
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I'm more curiuos about the hygiene of helmets ..

This is a little bit too much. Let's face it, vancouverites are lazy. Those who want to bike will already have a bike. Especially now with bike lanes, there's no excuse not to have one already.

And yeah, like already mentioned, the money would be much better spent on transit.
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Old 06-15-2012, 09:23 PM   #8
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so much fail could possibly be in this transit option
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Old 06-15-2012, 09:44 PM   #9
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Abso-fucking-lutely retarded.

This may cost money, but I guarantee you, when they audit this thing, of all the numbers it may be, it will NOT be 1.9 million or less.

It rains like 9 months out of the year here. Does no one at Vancouver city hall look outside?

Just stop. That's all I ask. I would like 4 years of "my plan is to do nothing. Status quo. I'm going to just hold costs for everything to what we are currently spending today."

I'd like to see what that looks like.
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Old 06-15-2012, 09:45 PM   #10
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and I'm going to add...rental helmets. Yummy.
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Old 06-15-2012, 09:46 PM   #11
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also - the rates dont make sense
$1.50 for 1 hr
$4 for 1.5 hrs?

can't I just rent it for 2 hrs and pay $3?

or did i not understand that correctly?
They do that so that the turnover would be higher. I've seen bike models in Europe where it's free for the first hour, then they start charging. They basically want you to bike to your location, drop it off, so others can use the bike. This is meant for people to commute, not for people to bike around Stanley Park (hopefully).
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Old 06-15-2012, 09:49 PM   #12
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They have this in Toronto and Montreal. It's more of a tourist attraction more than actual city people use. How can the company enforce wearing helmets when these bikes are usually self-served?
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Old 06-15-2012, 09:50 PM   #13
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I hope a dump truck runs over the row of rental bikes parked along the side of the road.
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Old 06-15-2012, 10:08 PM   #14
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Now you add another few millions to expand the bike lanes and a few million to maintain to it..........

All I can say is we are dumping money in the wrong place. Why not start the same thing but with smart cars. I know there is a few that does does near my work place.

Basically you register and you can drive their car around(mostly downtown only) and you pay like $5 for an hour or something like that. Co-worker use it all the time. There is a an app for iphone that can track if there is any car near your location that you can use. You don't have to pay for gas or maintain it. Something like that will be 100x better than bike rentals.
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Old 06-15-2012, 10:34 PM   #15
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[url]Basically you register and you can drive their car around(mostly downtown only) and you pay like $5 for an hour or something like that. Co-worker use it all the time. There is a an app for iphone that can track if there is any car near your location that you can use. You don't have to pay for gas or maintain it. Something like that will be 100x better than bike rentals.
There are a few car share programs out there right now. They all have pretty competitive rates. I don't think the city needs to set anymore up since these private companies are doing just fine.

(car 2 go, Modo, ZipCar)
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Old 06-15-2012, 11:10 PM   #16
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There are a few car share programs out there right now. They all have pretty competitive rates. I don't think the city needs to set anymore up since these private companies are doing just fine.

(car 2 go, Modo, ZipCar)
still I would rather see the money goes to those car share programs rather than some bike share programs which will only be useful 3 to 4 months in a year........ It will be an awesome idea if the gov could use the money to help these car share programs to expand their service area......
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Old 06-15-2012, 11:29 PM   #17
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inb4 bikes that smell of vomit and urine

better yet, the bikes on sale between main and abbot on hastings
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Old 06-15-2012, 11:46 PM   #18
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fucken bull shit
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Old 06-16-2012, 12:10 AM   #19
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what the fuck ..
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Old 06-16-2012, 12:34 AM   #20
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Bixi bikes way 40 pounds. Also i don't think they will rent helmets. They will let people just break the law and ride without one.
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Old 06-16-2012, 12:52 AM   #21
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So theres gonna be bikes parked at different locations for ppl to use when necessary? So what happens when it rains? Sit there and rust? What if the city loses money in the future cause of this project? What if vandalism occurs, who pays? Us?

For me, I tend to see more cyclists from May to maybe Sept, pending weather.

I think ever since Vancouver has become the hype, green mother nature beautiful olympic hosting city, city counsel has really been pushing more bike lanes and greener world.

How about spending the money into policing, fixing up roads, or just give taxpayers a break from paying more and more?
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Old 06-16-2012, 12:53 AM   #22
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There are a few car share programs out there right now. They all have pretty competitive rates. I don't think the city needs to set anymore up since these private companies are doing just fine.

(car 2 go, Modo, ZipCar)
Maybe smart car lanes would be a more feasible alternative than bike lanes then? If you can get ppl out of full-sized cars into smart cars downtown, you'd make better use of the limited space on roads and offer a transportation option that more ppl could find useful.
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Old 06-16-2012, 04:04 AM   #23
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I thought it was pretty cool to use when I was in Montreal to get across downtown as a tourist but there is no room for the bike stations downtown Vancouver .It will be a gong show here
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Old 06-16-2012, 07:07 AM   #24
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My buddy in Toronto seems to find the BIXI program quite handy.
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Old 06-16-2012, 10:31 AM   #25
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is this why the city had no summer employment this summer?
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