Demand for Dropbikes big in Kelowna after long-weekend hard launch | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Demand for Dropbikes big in Kelowna after long-weekend hard launch

A Dropbike haven on Cawston Avenue in Kelowna, June 12, 2018.
July 03, 2018 - 3:09 PM

KELOWNA - The city’s pilot bike share project is going well enough that the project’s coordinator even sees good things in the way some of the bikes have been vandalized.

The Canada Day weekend was the first big test for the Dropbike bike share program which began three weeks ago and has already attracted plenty of attention — mostly good and some bad.

“You can tell that somebody tried to take the bike apart then realized they wasted all their time because the parts are all non-standard,” active transportation coordinator Matt Worona says, of a vandalized Dropbike he saw on his rounds this weekend.

Demand has so far been strong, Worona says, with over a 1,000 rides the first week, a touch more than that the second but a surge in the third to over 2,600 rides.

More importantly to Worona, the rides have shortened in length from an average 33 minutes down to 25 minutes per trip.

That might sound like bad news, but to him, it means locals are starting to pick up the bikes for shorter trips.

“That tells us how people are starting to use the service,” he adds.

Worona says the 200 bikes on the road are already averaging 2.5 rides per day with a target of around 3.4 per day on each bike.

“That’s pretty similar to what Vancouver gets on a summer day with its system,” Worona adds.

The 18-month Dropbike pilot program began in early June and is intended, Worona says, not simply as a tourist service but an adjunct to Kelowna’s expanding transportation network.

“What we are weighing right now is how much disorder and inconvenience we are willing to tolerate to have the service in place,” he adds.

While the initial pilot is cost-free, Worona says Dropbike is entering into the agreement with the eventual expectation of turning a profit while operating the service, either through user fees or city taxation, or some combination.

Worona said the use of private cars and transit are both ultimately subsidized through taxation and Kelowna council will have to decide once the pilot project is over, how much they value the service and if they are willing to pay for it.

Plans are to double the number of bikes to 400 by July 20 and extend the range and the number of havens where the GPS-equipped bikes can be picked up and dropped off.

To contact a reporter for this story, email John McDonald or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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