After discussing a possible bikeshare program for Richmond, city staff are now hoping to approve a trial contract for U-bicycle at a committee meeting on Wednesday.
According to a Richmond city staff report, public bike share companies offer bikes in various locations throughout a city to be used on a short term basis. Typically, users can pick up a bike in one location and return it to another within a specific service area.
After considering docked systems – like Mobi, which is the service Vancouver uses – or dock-less systems where bikes are accessed via a phone app and have digital locks so they can be parked anywhere, Richmond city staff would like to run an 18-month trial with U-bicycle.
The B.C.-based company enables riders to rent bicycles 24 hours a day through a self-serve process. According to a city staff report, each self-locking bicycle has a helmet that locks to the frame of the bike and helmet liners would be available via a kiosk at stations. While the initial launch would begin with a small number of bikes, the company’s full launch would eventually include 470 bikes at 110 stations in the city centre core and in Steveston.
Without specific docking stations, the bikes’ “virtual parking zones” would be within a 50 metre radius from community centres, Canada Line stations, bus stops and commercial centres.
According to U-bicycle, rentals would include three payment options. A pay-as-you-go rental where users pick-up and return a smart bike at any virtual dock station at the cost of $1.00 per 30 minutes. A membership rental where members can have unlimited trips by enrolling in an annual pass program at $150 per year. Or a tourist rental for $14 for a 24-hour rental where bikes can be parked temporarily outside of the bike rental boundaries.
“The establishment of a public bike share system that allows residents and visitors to access affordable and convenient bicycles for short distance trips would provide a number of community benefits that support the city's mobility, carbon reduction and economic development goals,” wrote Sonali Hingorani, transportation engineer and Joan Caravan, transportation planner in a city staff report.
If council approves the staff’s recommendations, U-bicycle could launch eight weeks after its contract with the city is finalized.