VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – The City of Vancouver is looking at giving the go-ahead to a subsidized, public bicycle sharing system.

By spring of 2013, you could be renting one of 1,500 bikes to get to work for around $5. The plan calls for 125 stations scattered throughout the city, each holding around 20, seven-speed bikes apiece.

This concerns Joe Kainer at English Bay Bike Rentals, who’s talked to people at rental shops in Montreal, where bike share was introduced in 2009.

“Pretty much immediately after this was implemented, they had huge kiosks with up to 100 bicycles right across the street or just down the street from their operations and severely
under-cutting their prices,” he notes.

Geoff Sharein is at Spokes Bicycle Rentals on Denman. His main concern is that the public bike share is going to unfairly compete with private rental operations that already exist.

“There are at least a dozen of those kinds of businesses, 10 of which are primarily rental shops. It’s a lot of people whose paycheques and long-term ability to work rely on the fact that we can continue to operate,” believes Sharein.

He says the idea might work if the bikes are designated for short trips versus long sightseeing trips.

“I think a properly designed system that serves that market would be a positive step for any city, provided that factors like helmet rentals were sorted out,” Sharein adds. “My concern is that perhaps planners of the city hadn’t taken into account some of the unique features of Vancouver.”

Vancouver does say its bike share plan will be promoted for commuting, not tourism.

The plan is expected to go to council this fall, and if approved, would launch next spring.