Vancouver’s bike share system may negatively impact bike rental shops

Bike share systems are popular in other large cities like this one, as pat of the NYC Bike Share Program. Photo by: Craig Ruttle

The City of Vancouver’s bike share system program has its wheels in motion to launch this summer, but some bike rental shops have concerns about how it will affect their businesses.

The program which plans to roll out in June, will start with 100 stations and 1,000 bikes and will add another 50 stations and 500 bikes by the end of the year, has been a project eight years in the making.

Sarah Vetter, sales and marketing manager at Spokes Bicycle Rentals, said they have concerns as to where the bike share stations will be put.

“We cater to Stanley Park and the False Creek seawall area, so maybe they should keeping them out of the park areas,” Vetter said. “From the map that was shown [yesterday], it doesn’t look like they’re going to be doing that.”

At city council on Tuesday, Jerry Dobrovolny, the city’s general manager of engineering services, said the docking stations will be placed on sidewalks, public streets, plazas, parks and private land, and that they won’t interfere with existing bike shops.

“It’s really set up for a series of one way trips, short trips. The pricing is set up to encourage shorter use, not longer trips,” he said.

Vetter said some of their concerns include the percentage of customers the bike share system will be taking from local businesses, how it will affect local jobs, and how it will affect their marketing and sales plan going forward.

“The time is a bit unfortunate in that they announced it yesterday, and most of us have already done our ordering for the season,” she said. “It would be unfortunate if the pricing and the time makes it another competitor for all of us.”

As of yet, the rates for using the smart bikes haven’t been finalized, but helmets will come at no extra cost.

The agreement made with CycleHop Canada, which operates other bike share systems in Ottawa and Gatineau, is a five-year, $5 million deal that will give Vancouver the biggest smart bike system in North America according to Dobrovolny.

“We have every expectation that it’s going to be very successful. We plan for the worst and hope for the best,” he said.

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