~ By Vancouver personal trainer Cassandra Kruger. To learn more about Cassandra check out her bio.
|I’m sure you’re all familiar with Zipcar, Modo, and Car2Go, the fairly current and popular carshare programs within the Lower Mainland, but how about the latest concept of Public Bike Sharing? Similar to the carshare program, this model proposes that there will be fleets of bikes parked at secure, automated docking stations located every 2-3 blocks within a coverage area. Just like the system in place for cars, users would be able to check out a bike at one station and then return it to another.
On June 13th, CTV informed us of an update presented to the council regarding the PBS plan for Vancouver. It has been suggested that 1,500 bikes will be available for temporary use within downtown and other central coverage areas to include: Broadway, Arbutus and Main Street. These bikes will be distributed among 125 stations and each will hold 20 well- marked, durable 7-speed bicycles. HUB, a cycling coalition, realizes that funding from a private company is essential, but the city of Vancouver and taxpayers would also need to contribute up to $1.9 million per year to allow for proper signage, marketing and permit/ license exemption.
|Photo courtesy of JasonParis
Thus far, complaints have been noted from bike rental companies who claim that this will devastate their business. However, the PBS is aimed at a different target market. These bikes will not be used for leisurely sightseeing trips, but rather for commuters taking short trips within the city. A huge price discrepancy will keep individuals renting because the PBS will cost approximately $115 for an 8 hour day, see full fee schedule here, compared to a rental fee of roughly $30-$60 for a full day.
Another concern, one very close to many Vancouver personal trainers who harp on their clients, is the problems that might arise with helmet use. This is already a huge issue in Vancouver and adding to this could be a disaster! Proposed ideas include: helmet vending machines with return deposits, having each bike include a helmet and possibly even disposable helmets!!
The PBS is in place and practiced in more than 300 cities worldwide such as: New York, Barcelona and Paris and in Canada, Toronto and Montreal. It’s reported that there is a significant increase in cyclists in those cities who have adopted the program. What could be better than getting people out of their cars and onto bikes? Think of it as a new form of transit.
Though as a Vancouver personal trainer I own a bicycle, I strongly believe that Public Bike Sharing will provide convenient, comfortable, flexible and affordable cycling options for individuals needing to commute quickly within the city. On an even more positive note, we can view this plan as a healthy and environmentally friendly ongoing mode of transportation, creating a greater interest in cycling and reducing automobile usage. The committee representing the PBS is scheduled to meet again with council in early fall and if the program is approved, the Spring/Summer of 2013 will be the beginning of cycling season like never before!