Winnipeg is following the tracks of other major cities by launching a bike-sharing program downtown.
After running a Pedal in the Peg pilot project last year with three hotels (Alt Hotel, Delta and Holiday Inn), Downtown Winnipeg BIZ will have 22 bikes in five locations available to use.
“The hotels felt it was a service and amenity that their customers appreciated,” Downtown Winnipeg BIZ CEO Stefano Grande explained. “About 10 users per week, 200 users in total, which is a good indication that there is a need. They come equipped with a bike lock, a helmet, making it very easy for visitors to our city to explore in a different way.”
Tourists and Winnipeggers alike will be able to grab bikes free of charge from City Hall and the Downtown BIZ offices. A copy of your ID will be made and a $300 authorization will be made on a credit card to ensure you return the bike, which comes equipped with a helmet, lock, lights and a cycling map.
The three hotels will offer bike rentals for a fee.
“We want to continue to attract people to come to Winnipeg for conventions, for leisure,” Mayor Brian Bowman said. “But what I really like about this is it’s also available for Winnipeggers, and if there’s one message I’d love to get out, it’s just to encourage Winnipeggers who may not have been on a bike recently to come to City Hall and get on one of these bikes.”
One difference between Pedal in the Peg and bike-sharing services in other cities is that you have to bring the bike back to the same place that you got it from. Grande also said the service will be great for people to work downtown but don’t bike to their office.
“There’s lots of office meetings that go on downtown. We’re all walking or taking our car for five minutes. Leave your car in the parkade, grab a bike, get active, just providing that option for people.”
One of the highest priorities for Bowman during his first term in office has been expanding the city’s active transportation network, which cycling activists have long felt is lacking.
“We need to continue making those investments,” Bowman said. “We know that we have to catch up to other cities, and what Winnipeggers expect in a modern city is greater connectivity and safety for cyclists. We also want to see more options like this available. I want to see a lot more of this in Winnipeg.”
The city will provide $1,750 to maintain the 22 bikes, which Downtown Winnipeg BIZ purchased from White Pine Bicycle Co.
The end goal is to expand this program city-wide.