Sunday, July 21, 2024

City councillor puts wheels in motion to bring bike-sharing back to Victoria


A Victoria city councillor, who has thus far championed any and all clean transportation causes, wants to explore the possibility of bringing a bike, or scooter share program back to Victoria. 

U-Bicycle was a failed attempt at bringing a bike-share program to the city back in 2018 and City Councillor Matt Dell believes Victoria deserves a better executed attempt at bringing that type of business to the city’s residents. 

“These types of programs are evolving very quickly,” Dell told Victoria Buzz. 

“There are really innovative ideas and professional companies doing this around the world and bike-share companies are a critical part of a city’s sustainable urban transportation system.”

The U-Bicycle program did not work for Victoria. Dell said that the implementation wasn’t ideal and that iteration of a bike-share program had very little local support, which led to its failure. 

Dell tried to describe the comparison of U-Bicycle being in Victoria to what other available companies are doing nowadays as a metaphor.

“U-Bicycle was like the iPhone one and right now we are on the iPhone 14,” described Dell. “It wouldn’t be fair to say, ‘well the iPhone one couldn’t run modern apps, what’s to say the iPhone 14 will?’”

Dell is suggesting that just because a primitive version of a bike-share program didn’t work doesn’t mean a modernized version wouldn’t. 

The framework exists across Canada with Toronto and Vancouver both having created city-funded initiatives and Montreal has a highly successful program as well.

Edmonton and Calgary utilize Lime, Bird and other companies that are scooter and/or bike-shares which are owned privately, but also allow for local companies to enter the competitive industry. 

Victoria could go in many different directions, but Dell said one route that would be interesting to navigate would be if BC Transit or the CRD developed their own publicly-funded program. This however, would take more time to implement successfully.

Currently, motorized scooters technically are not legally allowed to be used in BC which would be the first of many hoops the city’s council and staff would have to jump through. Cities like Kelowna, Richmond and Coquitlam are permitted through a provincial pilot program, which Victoria would have to apply to be a part of. 

The next hoop to jump through would be figuring out a way for people using these bikes/scooters to wear a helmet in accordance with BC-wide helmet laws. 

“That is something that the bike-share company and the city would have to figure out,” explained Dell. “With U-Bicycle, every bike would have a helmet attached to it or you would bring your own. That’s the easiest way to deal with it.”

“I would like to see an e-bike program where the bike would have a little lock for the helmet. When you unlock the bike, the latch goes and the helmet becomes unlocked, that way it’s not stolen every time.”

Dell doesn’t have all the answers, but he is eager and game to pursue them as he looks into this further for Victorians.

Currently, he is just beginning conversations with city staff and has met with a representative of Victoria’s car-share, Evo, who also deals in e-bike-sharing. 

No motions have been filed with the city as of yet. 

Curtis Blandy

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