Bike sharing coming to Kelowna

Image Credit: ADOBE STOCK

KELOWNA - Big city bike sharing could be coming to Kelowna.

Active transportation coordinator Matt Worona in a report to Kelowna city council today, Dec. 11, says advancements in bike sharing technology has brought down costs to the point where its possible to sustain a program without government assistance.

Worona calls Kelowna a “bike friendly city” that could support a bike sharing program while helping meet the city’s goals of “mobility, carbon reduction and economic development."

Making this possible, Worona says, is the recent introduction of dockless bikes sharing, reducing operating costs and making it attractive to the private sector.

Dockless bike sharing allows users to find and book a bike over their smartphone, typically costing about $1 an hour. Instead of a physical docking location, the bikes can be left at “havens” anywhere in the program’s service area.

Remote internal locking removes the need to lock the bike to something and the havens can be established anywhere using GPS and quickly created or moved for special events.

Dockless bike sharing does have its problems, Worona notes, including bikes carelessly placed that become a pedestrian hazard and poorly maintained bikes that can threaten user safety.

One point of possible contention is the recommendation by Worona the city’s bike helmet bylaw be relaxed for the bike sharing program.

With some exceptions, Kelowna's consolidated traffic bylaw currently demands all bicycle operators wear a helmet approved under the Motor Vehicle Act.

More work is needed but Worona says its possible to arrange a pilot program from one of a number of private companies for next spring that would see a minimum of 500 bikes deployed by April 1, 2018, subject to a number of conditions.

Worona delivered the report to city councillors Monday morning, Dec. 11, and is promising an update for city councillors in January before a decision must be made.

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