Bike sharing is like anything else on wheels. There are always some problems at the beginning. Things break down. The economics doesn't pan out the way you think. And people often don't have the good sense to wear a helmet.
Vancouver, which is known as one of those places where everyone wants to live, is trying to make sure its new bike sharing program doesn't run into the same glitches as Toronto and New York.
The Globe and Mail reports that it's been five years since a bike share was first discussed by Vancouver’s city council. On Tuesday, they'll make a decision on the final proposal. If it's approved, the plan would start up next spring.
“It’s taken longer than I expected, but it’s taken longer because we’ve been spending a lot of time looking at other cities, learning from them,” Heather Deal, the Vancouver city council member responsible for cycling, told the paper.
In recent weeks, Vancouver officials have been on the phone with bike sharing counterparts in New York and Chattanooga. They both have contracted with Alta Bicycle Share, the big player in bike sharing, and use the same Bixi bikes which would pop up in Vancouver.
The Pacific Coast city is launching with a $6 million start up grant, which would keep it from running into the funding problems that have plagued the Toronto project. Alta would own the Vancouver setup, and if it runs into the red, the city has no financial responsibility, according to the Globe and Mail. If it's successful, Vancouver and Alta split the profits.
Another issue is bike helmets. Vancouver is plush with gorgeous parks, and dotted with winding roads, which means there's going to be ample opportunity for unfamiliar tourists to bang their heads.
Vancouver is going to try an integrated helmet rental program, which no other city has tried. In other words, to rent a bike, you have to also rent a helmet. That's intriguing to other cities, which have encouraged riders to wear helmets but can't force them to do so.
Stay tuned to see what Vancouver decides to do. Has anyone checked out Citi Bikes or Hubway or Divvy? Is it something you'd recommend?
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Photo via Wikimedia