There is good news for Kelowna residents eager to have access to bike sharing again.
After opening up applications for new bike share operators two days ago, the City of Kelowna believes the city is still on track to have new service in place this summer.
The city’s active transportation coordinator, Matt Worona, cautions that the actual timeline will depend largely on the operators themselves, though.
Only two days after the city started accepting applications, Worona said it’s “amazing” that Kelowna has already received one application — and the municipality is expecting “a handful more.”
Worona said the city is getting interest from both global companies as well as local residents interested in franchise opportunities.
The city’s regulations allow for multiple operators renting multiple types of vehicles — a flexible approach the city believes will allow them to change as the bike sharing industry changes.
Right now, Wornoa believes the future of bike share is in electric bikes (ebikes).
“If we have an ebike on the streets, we are going to get twice as many rides out of it a day in a bike-share system and likely the price point will be a little higher, so it is a little more attractive for companies to move in and use that product,” Worona explained.
Bike sharing is also having an impact on the cities where it is used, as it gives city planners lots of information about how existing infrastructure is being used by cyclists.
“Having better data about where people are traveling…gives us a better understanding of where we should build cycling faculties for everybody else that doesn’t use the system,” Worona said.
What happened to Dropbike and its bikes?
Last summer’s bike share operator, Drop Mobility, announced May 1 that its Dropbikes wouldn’t be returning to Kelowna, citing criticisms of the city’s new permitting process.
The city has defended its approach to bike sharing, arguing flexibility is important in a quickly-changing industry.
The company had over 300 bikes in Kelowna.
The Kelowna Capital News is reporting that less than 10 per cent of of those bikes were recycled because they were considered broken beyond repair and the rest of the Kelowna Dropbikes were sent to be fixed up or redeployed to other communities.
A number of the bikes can be seen crushed into a cube at a Kelowna scrap metal and recycling business.
— with files from Travis Lowe