First phase of Vancouver public bike share program launching today

Click to play video: 'Vancouver bike share program ready to roll' Vancouver bike share program ready to roll
ABOVE: After years of delays, Vancouver's bike share program is officially being launched Wednesday morning. But some business owners are worried the initiative could hurt their bottom line. Julia Foy reports – Jul 20, 2016

The City of Vancouver is launching the first phase of the largest ‘Smart Bike’ system in North America Wednesday morning.

The launch of the program, known as Mobi, will happen at 10 a.m. and be available to those who have purchased founding memberships.

In February, CycleHop Canada was chosen as the operator of the program and received an initial financial boost from the City of five-million dollars for the launch and operation of the public bike share for five years.

The first phase of the Vancouver bike share program will see the launch of 1,000 bicycles and 100 stations and an additional 500 bikes and 50 stations, according to the city, will be added by the end of year.

The service area will include the downtown peninsula, extending to Arbutus Street, 16 Avenue and Main Street.

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City staff started looking into the project in 2009 but it has faced many challenges.

One challenge in particular involves bike helmets. Because all cyclists must wear helmets, the city says each station will have a helmet vending machine and return service.

Users will be able to rent a helmet at the same time as the bike rental and return the helmet to any station. After each rental, the helmet will be sanitized and inspected before being replaced in the vending machines.

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