North Shore e-bike pilot project grounded for 2019

City of North Van to revisit e-bike share initiative in 2020

Bike lanes won’t be going electric just yet.

Plans to roll out a North Shore-spanning e-bike share program this year have been delayed until 2020 at the earliest.

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In November 2018, City of North Vancouver council unanimously supported a free-floating, dockless e-bike share program, which was tentatively slated to operate by the spring of 2019.

 “This will be, I think, a game-changer in terms of being able to move people from perhaps Lower Lonsdale to Central Lonsdale from Marine Drive to Central Lonsdale by e-bike,” Mayor Linda Buchanan said at the time.

But despite collaboration with West Vancouver and the District of North Vancouver, the city has struggled to get the project rolling.

“We've been looking for a vendor/operator who can meet our requirements,” wrote City of North Vancouver spokeswoman Connie Rabold in an email. “We haven't found the ideal provider yet and we'll revisit this project next year.”

The search for a provider has been hampered by rapid changes in the technology and service delivery models, Rabold explained.

“Our requirements of the service provider include safety, data gathering and equipment performance,” she wrote.

It’s disappointing to see a promising initiative sidelined, said cycling advocate Scott Munro.

Munro, a district resident who lives in an area “not well served by transit,” suggested the e-bike share could have offered many residents a chance to park their cars and travel by bike.

“I think it was a phenomenal initiative,” he said.

Besides being disappointed by the delay, Munro said he’s frustrated with the lack of communication.

“I just wish there had been a little more information coming out,” he said.

The program would allow commuters to find and rent bikes using a smartphone app and pay either a flat rental fee or on a per-minute basis. Similar to Car2go, bikes would need to be parked in designated areas.

The project was intended to make the city more attractive for tourists and to improve “first and last mile” transit connections, according to a city staff report.

A UBC study of Vancouver’s bike share program found 29 per cent of more than 3,000 total bicycle rentals replaced transit trips while 16 per cent replaced car trips.

 

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