Dropbike success could help Kelowna fight chronic traffic congestion | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Dropbike success could help Kelowna fight chronic traffic congestion

Dropbike Warriors Annie Chaput, right, and Pippa Bingham work on a pair of Dropbikes in downtown Kelowna. The two women work for Dropbike finding and maintaining the company's bikes.
August 14, 2018 - 2:10 PM

KELOWNA - The continuing uptake of the new Dropbike service in Kelowna could soon make the bike share project a viable part of the city’s efforts to combat chronic traffic congestion.

City transportation coordinator Matt Worona said since its introduction in mid-June, the service has seen enthusiastic uptake from both visitors and locals, with over 13,000 users making over 24,000 trips on the 350 solar-assisted, GPS-equipped bikes in the fleet.

“We’re seeing different kinds of uses than we expected,” he said. “That might be throwing a Dropbike in the back of a truck and going to Myra Canyon but it also might mean using it to get groceries. People might be seeing a dollar per hour as worth it for a lot of different uses.”

Since service started, Worona said the city has approved an additional 50 or so of the virtual havens where the bikes can be picked up and dropped off, on top of the 40 the program started with.

The service area has also expanded from its start downtown to included parts of the North End, out to Gordon Drive and into the Pandosy town centre.

The early success of the Dropbike program comes against the backdrop of ongoing and growing traffic congestion in Kelowna, the subject of a paper presented to Kelowna council yesterday afternoon, Aug. 13, entitled the Congestion Paradox.

Locals own more vehicles per person than any other city in Canada, councillors heard yesterday, and it costs $26 million per kilometre to widen major roads in the city centre.

Without moving away from automobile trips as our primary mode of transportation, council heard the traffic congestion that plagues the Central Okanagan will continue.

Worona said there’s no question the bike share program — or something like it — is a viable tool to help Kelowna move away from the “car-centric” culture that’s at the root of the chronic congestion.

“There’s all kinds of investments in transportation we can make,” he said. “If we find that a technology like bike share can do some of the heavy lifting and its relatively cheap to do, then it’s worth considering.”

Worona will be back before Kelowna city council this fall to update them on the 18-month Dropbike trial program.

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