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Kelowna bike share nearly ready to roll out

Click to play video 'Kelowna’s Dropbike nears launch' Kelowna’s Dropbike nears launch
Kelowna’s Dropbike nears launch – Jun 5, 2018

Dropbike is landing in Kelowna.

Three hundred bikes are going to be rolled out mid-June in the city’s first bike share program.

The bikes will be stationed in various locations around the city known as bike havens, marked by a simple yellow box on the ground.

“There’s one pretty close to the sails, there’s a couple at City Park, there’s quite a few all up Bernard,” Matt Worona, the city’s acting transportation co-ordinator, said.

Bikes can be unlocked by scanning a QR code with an app.

The tires are made of foam so cyclists won’t get a flat, Worona said.

READ MORE: Kelowna ready to roll with bike sharing program

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The basket is a solar panel, and it powers a GPS-enabled lock, he added.

“The locks themselves will be able to ping every three seconds during a trip, which will give us information that’s totally anonymized about every person’s trip: where they’re going, what route selection they’re taking, their acceleration, a huge amount of data,” he said.

“We might be the city with the most robust cycling data by the end of this pilot project, which is really exciting,” Worona said. “We’re excited to understand the weirdest trip someone makes, like how far do they take it?”

READ MORE: Cyclists vs. drivers: A look at Kelowna’s more complicated intersections

Kelowna has the benefit of learning from other cities’ mistakes where bike shares have flopped, he added.

Dropbike doesn’t need pricey docks because its bikes self lock, he said.

“A major portion of the system cost comes down to the docks. If you’re not employing docks, you can do a lot more,” he said.

Bikes can be left locked outside of havens, but that will cost the cyclist an extra service fee, Worona said.

“And then that flips onto the bike. It becomes a bounty, so that the next person that sees it can rebalance or move that bike into a haven,” Worona said. “It naturally puts order back into the system.”

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READ MORE: Chinese ‘bike graveyards’ reveal cracks in country’s booming bike-share industry

To avoid theft, the screws, fittings and pieces are unique to the bike, Worona said.

“There’s basically no aftermarket because the standards and sizes are different. They would not work on any other bike,” he said.

“You can’t just take your regular set of tools and rip off the handlebars and put them on your bike.”

For those who borrow but don’t return, the bike can be tracked through GPS, Worona said.

“It’s very easy to say, ‘Hey RCMP, here’s the bike rolling around the city, can you just go pick it up’?” he said.

There are different packages available for cyclists, but a basic option costs a dollar an hour with a refundable $50 deposit.

Cyclists will be expected to provide their own helmets, which are required by law, Worona said.

READ MORE: Nitro Circus arrives in Kelowna

The pilot program is expected to last for 18 months.

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The city said it won’t cost the taxpayer anything.

At the peak of the pilot program, Worona expects upwards of 1,000 bikes to be deployed around the city.