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Could a future Vancouver bike share program look like the one in Hamilton?

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – A car-to-go system for bikes? One Canadian city is doing it and Vancouver is looking at following suit.

Hamilton, Ontario is in the test phase of a “smart bike” program, and is planning to officially launch it in the spring.

It’s known as “SoBi Hamilton,” operated by Social Bicycles.

Peter Topalovic with Transportation for the City of Hamilton says rather than having docking stations, all the technology is on each bike, so you can lock a bike up to any rack, which lowers infrastructure costs.

“You can reserve a bike before you actually get to it. You can pause a bike so you can maybe run in and get a coffee and run back out, when the bike is still yours.”

He says there are benefits from a city planning perspective as well.

“We know where the bikes have travelled cause they have a built-in… GPS which means that we can make planning decisions. For instance, if a lot of people are cycling in one place and there’s no cycling lane there, maybe that’s a place where we should be putting cycling lanes,” explains Topalovic.

“The other piece is if some stations are under-performing or over-performing — with the docks being so light on their feet, you can add more or take away ones really easily without any kind of heavy machinery to move them. So you can be a lot more responsive to where people want to be.”

Topalovic adds the city is branding some areas as SoBi parking areas so there is a place they can consistently go for bikes, but the bikes can actually be parked anywhere.

He tells us people are using the system more than predicted, so the city is considering releasing more bikes before the official launch.

A bike-sharing program has been part of the City of Vancouver’s plan for a number of years now, but has run into some roadblocks.

Topalovic says capital costs for the Hamilton system have been about $1.6 million.