Vancouver City Council will be hearing from speakers on the topic of a public bike share program on October 16th at 7:30pm. The details of the changes to be debated are included in the document Implementation of a Public Bike Share program – By-law amendments referred by Council back on Sept 18th. People wishing to speak to this item can register by contacting 604-829-4238, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many cities around the world have publicly subsidized bike share programs. The accompanying photos are from Berlin, Germany and Paris, France. It’s worthwhile noting that Vancouver is ‘going alone’ with the bike share system. Would it be advantageous to work with other municipalities in Metro Vancouver to setup a common program? Can Vancouver get the best bike share program possible for the public money provided? What are the best practices in other cities?In terms of implementing a bike share program it’s essential to have transparency in the process with fair and open bidding of contracts, and to implement the program while being mindful of the issues from existing established commercial bike rental operations. We are very much looking forward to seeing more of the details in the staff selection of “Alta Bicycle Share Inc.” from two shortlist entries of the six submissions as outlined in the report summary on pages 1-2. Is there a reason why city staff selected a winner from the six applicants and not the public? Was there any public consultation on this point? Could economies of scale across Metro Vancouver potentially provide a more robust bike share system interoperable between municipalities? Could TransLink play a larger role than providing space at stations for bike stalls (such as integrating with Compass Card)?
There are indeed costs involved to running a bike share (such as a subsidy to pay for a private company to provide public bike share with a public-private partnership). Determining the locations of bike share stalls, the number of bikes at each location and so forth should be done openly in consultation with the public (note there is a new Public Bike Share Station definition in Report Appendix A/2).
During the Public Hearing the topic of compulsory helmets will likely come up. Should the City of Vancouver consider asking for an exemption from the province to allow for helmets to be optional? There appears to be a current policy of general non-enforcement for cyclists travelling without a helmet, a change in legislation could formalize this. European experts including Jan Gehl have indicated that the health benefits coming from increased bicycle use outweigh the extra protection from mandating helmets.
Further information is available on the Public Bike Share System page of the City’s website. MetroNews.ca is another source, please see the article City gears up to unveil long-awaited bike sharing plan (June 7, 2012).
[Full disclosure: primary CityHallWatch contributors are all cyclists, and yes we wear helmets]