Calgary councillor proposes city move ahead with bike sharing service
Update: The bike sharing program passed unanimously in council on Monday night.
A new part of the sharing economy could be coming to Calgary if one city councillor has his way: bike sharing.
Ward 8 councillor Evan Woolley is presenting a notice of motion to city council, proposing that Calgary allow a bike share company to operate in the city as part of a multi-modal transportation network.
“Let me begin by saying: Zero taxpayer dollars on this,” Woolley said.
Woolley joined Angela Kokott on 770 CHQR and said the city isn’t looking to get into the bike-sharing business, but it does have many interests in a bike share company operating in its jurisdiction.
LISTEN: Evan Woolley joins Calgary Today to discuss why Calgary should have a bike share program and what it could look like
“Because we are storing bikes on public space, and it is the responsibility of cities to maintain safe transportation systems,” Woolley said. “So this is another tool that we will be responsible for, in terms of operating this business on public space, so we do have a say in it.”
Where previous iterations of bike sharing programs required sizeable stationary docks to be installed and maintained, the current generation of shareable bikes require much less support infrastructure.
“The new system they have now is dockless [and] much more efficient,” the Ward 8 councillor said. “The technology has come a long, long way.”
California-based LimeBike is one company with which Woolley and his team had preliminary discussions.
“When I asked Limebike ‘Why are you interested in coming to Calgary? What interests you?,’ they said that we have this incredible pathway network, we have 880 kilometres of pathways,” Woolley said. “They’ve watched our Car2Go success, so that shared economy in Calgary is working really well. A lot of people like to bike to work and back.”
Cities the size of Calgary with bike sharing have about 10,000 bikes available as part of the service. But Woolley said Calgarians won’t see the city’s shareable bikes and scooters overtaking street corners, paths, and curbs.
“One of the challenges we’ve seen in cities like Dallas is they put in way too many bikes on the streets and they did have problems with bikes lying everywhere.
“As a part of our system and how we are going to mitigate that is it’s going to be a slow burn. We’ll start probably with 1,000 bikes this year, and based on performance and supply and demand, we’ll kind of use that basic economics for it. We’ll start to dole out, to increase the size of the inventory.
Woolley proposes a two-year pilot, saying in the notice of motion that it would fulfill the city’s 2012 Cycling Strategy.
Woolley also outlined the economic benefits of a bike-sharing service in Calgary.
“This pilot, for the 10,000 bikes, the companies are saying that this is about 50-70 jobs,” he said. “These are warehouse jobs and operator jobs. This is tens of thousands of square feet of warehouse space. We’ve seen the hoteliers and tourist people are really keen on this idea, so, nevermind the great mobility choices this provides, this provides a lot of jobs for a city that badly needs them.”
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