Kelowna’s regional programs manager Jerry Dombowsky shows off one of the Dropbike cycles that will be used in the city’s new bike-share program while addressing council Monday.—Image: Alistair Waters/Capital News

Kelowna’s regional programs manager Jerry Dombowsky shows off one of the Dropbike cycles that will be used in the city’s new bike-share program while addressing council Monday.—Image: Alistair Waters/Capital News

Kelowna city council approves bike-share program

The year-round program will feature bikes accessible through a smartphone app

Kelowna is getting a bike-share program.

City council gave the plan the green light Monday, endorsing an 18-month pilot project featuring bikes to be provided by a Toronto company called Dropbike. It has similar program in Toronto and Montreal.

“This is great,” said Coun. Brad Seiben. “I’m really excited to see this.”

His comments were echoed by Coun.Charlie Hodge who said he was thrilled to see the program come to Kelowna.

He noted 10 years ago, several members of council went to Portland, Oregon to look at the bike-share program but there was no appetite for one in Kelowna at the time.

But that was then and this is now.

Council voted unanimously to approve the pilot project after hearing how the program will work.

Using a smartphone app and a credit or credit-debit card, users will be able to unlock a bike’s back wheel using the app. When they are finished riding, users will re-lock the wheel and leave it at a number of locations around the city to be called havens.

Locations of the havens will be identified on the app. Leaving it at a non-specified spot will add to the cost.

Because the bikes do not require a dock—they do include a locking cable to secure them to something— the cost of the program will be reduced, said city staff.

Dropbike will assume the costs for the program, not the city.

In 2019, city staff will report back to council on how the program was received and will then issue a request for proposals for a permanent program if the decision is to continue.

During council’s discussion, the issue of helmets came up.

City staff said while it is provincial law that cyclists wear bicycle helmets, users of the bike-share program are being encouraged to bring their own, as helmets will not be provided.

The city hopes the program will compliment the local transit system and give the public another option for environmentally friendly transportation.

Bike rental rates are expected to start at $1 per hour. The program, which could start as early as April, will run year round.

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