West End: Public bike share program worries rental shops

Area has eight privately owned rental stores

Private bike rental shops in the West End are worried their business will be undercut by the citys planned public bike share program.

The city is gearing up to introduce the program as part of its Greenest City 2020 plan, which was in part the reasoning for the citys expanding network of bike lanes. The bike share program is the next push to get residents and tourists into those lanes.

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Eight privately owned bike rental shops operate in the West End and receive most of their revenue from the tourist market.

The city is entering a market that already exists, and were servicing this market really well, said Stephen Regan, executive director of the West End BIA. These shops help to land people on commercial streets when theyre returning their bikes. They might be hungry or thirsty, so it also helps out other West End businesses.

One of the proposed locations for the bike share program is in Stanley Park, which Regan describes as the bread and butter of many of these businesses. Regan and several shop owners have met with city staff regarding the pricing of the bicycles, the location of the units and the target market of the program, which he hopes will be locals and commuters. Regan said that so far he is pleased with how cooperative the city has been with the West End BIA, and hes hopeful the bike share program could even prove to be positive for bike rental shops, depending on how much the city is willing to compromise.

These [policy makers] are cyclists, they want more people to ride bikes, Regan said. There might be a popular wave of people purchasing bikes and mode shifting from automobiles to cycling. However, we dont have solid data right now. At the end of the day the bike companies will know if theyre up or down [in sales].

The city has chosen Portland, OR-based company Alta Bicycle Share, which also operates bike shares in Boston, Washington and Melbourne, as its bike share vendor. The bike sharing program is set to launch early next year.

Drew_McLachlan@hotmail.com

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