Wheels keep turning to implement Bike Share program by 2014

Debate continued at City Hall on Jan. 25 as the Transportation and Transit Committee further considered the proposed Public Bike Share (PBS) system to take effect in Calgary as soon as mid-2014.

Bike sharing is a new approach to urban mobility. The system consists of a fleet of bicycles located at designated stations around the city that can be picked up and dropped off with the simple swipe of a credit card.

The program has already been adopted by other Canadian cities including Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto.

Tessa Veikle, Calgary resident and biking enthusiast recently experienced one of these bike share systems first-hand on a trip to Montreal.

The proposed bike share program would see hundreds of bikes made available to the public for a small fee.
Photo by: J. Chelsea Barclay

Interested in the program’s future, Veikle was able to talk about her own experience with the bike share program as it is in other Canadian cities during the committee’s recess on Wednesday.

“I was a tourist, and these bikes were the best way to explore the city, they made my experience enjoyable, easy and fun,” said Veikle.

According to the Calgary Bike Share Feasibility Study presented to city council, the program is expected to cost $2.4 million with an additional $1.1 million per year required to operate.

The proposed bike-share area would include 40 stations, 400 bikes, and 760 docks, which would be located at transit stops, city attractions, employment and residential hubs all throughout the city.

PBS advocates, committee members and members of the public collectively agreed today that the appropriate infrastructure, including bike lanes, must first be put in place before the rest of the project can proceed.

“BikeCalgary believes a well planned bicycle infrastructure accompanied by a comprehensive education and promotion campaign is the foundation for a safe and successful bike share program,” said Simone Chauvette, spokesperson for BikeCalgary to the transportation and transit Committee.

Chauvette declared if these programs cannot be implemented due to financial or staff resources prior to mobilization then city council should delay the bike share program until conditions rightfully ensure success.

Ward 9 Alderman Gian-Carlo Carra agreed that the proper steps should be taken to ensure the bike share is a success.

“The fundamental question for me is whether this is the time to be doing this feasibility study or whether we should be putting our resources into the much more complex but much more preliminary task of laying out a connected bike network.” said Carra.

The committee passed the motion 6-4, which moves to a February council meeting for final vote.

Administration will return in October 2012 with a business model and funding report as well as an update on the progress that has been made on the cycling strategy implementation including infrastructure, education and promotion.The proposal was passed 6-4 by the transportation and transit comittee.
Photo by: J. Chelsea Barclay

For

Diane Colley-Urquhart (chair)

Druh Farrell

Ray Jones

Shane Keating

John Mar

Brian Pincott

Against

Gian-Carlo Carra

Peter Demong

Dale Hodges

Gord Lowe

Meeting agenda, minutes and video can be found here.

Viekle is excited to hear the program is being considered for Calgary and enjoyed using the bikes on her vacation, however she is unsure whether or not she would use a similar system if it were implemented in her own city.

“They weren’t that good quality of (a) bike, and here I have a bike which I love that has as many gears as I like, you really wouldn’t depend on it to go too far,” she said.

Viekle believes for tourists visiting Calgary, the program would be a great way to get around and see what the city has to offer.

jbarclay@cjournal.ca