A public rental bicycle system involving 1,500 bikes and 125 stations planned for Vancouver will cost $1.9 million amortized over 10 years, the city’s director of transportation told city council Wednesday.
But Jerry Dobrovolny said ongoing negotiations with a Portland company to implement the system in the spring of 2013 prevents him from disclosing how much the city’s contribution will be on the overall tab.
Dobrovolny said the public will learn the full details of cost breakdowns in the fall when he presents a contract to council. Alta Bike Share of Portland is working with subcontractor Bixi to supply the bikes.
“We’re in negotiations now with the proponent and so, as you can imagine, the specific financial information is confidential because we’re in a negotiation with them about what those numbers will be,” he told council.
Dobrovolny appeared before council Wednesday to provide politicians and the public with an update on the city’s push to implement a rental bicycle system in Vancouver.
The concept is not new, with more than 300 public bike share systems worldwide, including in Toronto where an annual fee to use the bikes costs $95.
Customers simply swipe a credit card in a kiosk, take a rather beefy bike and drop it off at another station. In Toronto, a bike can be used for $1.50 an hour, which is much cheaper than $8 an hour at some bike rental shops in Vancouver.
Plans in Vancouver call for stations in downtown and the core of the city every two to three blocks on streets, sidewalks, plazas, parks and some private lands. Each station would accommodate about 20 bikes.
A major component of the system that still has to be worked out with Alta Bicycle Share and Bixi is how to include helmets with the bikes.
Alta doesn’t operate a bike share in Portland but operates a system in Melbourne. That system has vending machines where helmets can be purchased or the rider can pay $20 for a membership and get a helmet.
The law in B.C. says cyclists must wear helmets and Dobrovolny acknowledged there is no successful integrated helmet systems in place worldwide.
“That was one of the key challenges that all of the proponents were very well aware of and focused their proposals on,” he said of the city’s search for a company to implement the bike system. “Not only are there benefits to proponents to develop an integrated helmet solution that will work in Vancouver, but there’s also tremendous desire to have an integrated helmet solution in cities around the world where there is not a mandatory bylaw.”
Mexico City created a helmet law exemption for adults after its bike rental program’s first year of operations. Tel Aviv recently exempted adults in urban areas. In Brisbane, the city bought 400 helmets that remain on the bikes and are not cleaned.
An owner of a West End bike rental shop and an employee of another rental business told council the implementation of a bike share program with its cheaper user fees and stations built near their stores could potentially be disastrous for their bottom line.
Council agreed to consult with English Bay Bike Rentals and Spokes Bicycle Rentals before the new bike program is implemented next year.