July 12, 2018 6:19 pm
Updated: July 12, 2018 6:23 pm

Laval launches electric bike rental service

WATCH: A new pilot project in Laval encourages residents to jump on a bike instead of using a car to get around the city. As Global's Phil Carpenter reports, while the bike-sharing system is a lot like BIXI, there is one major difference.

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Electric assist bikes are now available for self-service rental in Laval, similar to how the BIXI rental system in Montreal works.

The service is a pilot project that was launched Thursday because the city wants to promote cycling as a means of transportation.

“It’s a way of travelling that will keep you in shape, which will avoid traffic jams and which which also avoid polluting the air,” said Laval Mayor Marc Demers.

Forty bikes will be stationed at four locations in Laval, including metro stations. (Global News)

A total of 40 bikes will be stationed at four locations serviced by the Laval Transit Corporation, including the Cartier, Montmorency and Concorde Metro stations and at Carrefour Laval.

The city is the only place in Quebec where bike sharing is available electric bicycles. People can access them with a membership card or a mobile phone app.

READ MORE: Montreal starts electric bike pilot project

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“It costs $20 for the month or $40 for the season,” explained Laval Transit Corporation President David De Cotis. “Or an occasional user can just use a card occasionally.”

Occasional riders will pay $2 for every half-hour.

Cyclists must pedal to activate the motor, which gives power depending how hard you pedal. Batteries can last for about 60 kilometres.

Bewegen CEO Alain Ayotte says when you’re done “[you] can leave the bike at the station, even if they don’t dock it, and the transaction is complete.”

That’s because a GPS system built into the bike can help the company to track it, so they know when it’s back at the station.

READ MORE: BIXI riding wave of popularity as Free Sunday program makes its return

It was Ayotte’s Quebec-based company which initiated the project because he says these kinds of bikes are becoming more popular. The company first noticed the boost in popularity after it launched a bike share service in Birmingham, Alabama four years ago, with two kinds of bikes.

“We saw an increased usage three times higher for the electric assist bicycle than the regular bicycle,” he told Global News.

Demers agrees that there are several advantages to using a power-assisted bike. For example the motor will help the elderly make it easier to ride.

“All the hills seem to disappear,” he said. “Everything that could be a disadvantage for bicycling disappears.”

The pilot project ends this October. Officials will decide at a future date if the service will become permanent.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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