Building on their success in Victoria, U-Bicycle has announced plans to expand into Esquimalt.
In a presentation to council Monday, Raviv Litman, operations manager with the dockless bike share service, outlined its growing popularity since launching last September in Victoria.
“This is something that not only benefits environmental issues, but is also a huge benefit in terms of affordability,” said Litman, who called U-Bicycle the lowest cost transportation option when compared to public transit or driving.
At $1.50 per hour, users download the accompanying app and swipe on their smartphones to access a bicycle wherever it is. The dockless system means riders can park a bike anywhere they like, once they’ve reached their destination.
GPS technology tracks the location of the bikes, which have already been spotted in Esquimalt near the marina, outside municipal hall and at the Esquimalt Plaza.
“We’ve been seeing increased ridership in Victoria,” Litman told council, citing a 35 per cent weekly spike in both ridership and membership.
The company estimates the average distance for a user in Victoria is two kilometres or 15 minutes – short trips, which align with the business model. Peak riding times include the weekdays between 4 and 7 p.m. as well as weekends, meaning the service appeals to both commuters and tourists. However, Litman pointed out commuters are the “most dependable user.”
“Esquimalt is a small but very bikeable community in the CRD,” he continued, adding the existing cycling infrastructure within the Township would make the expansion a smooth transition.
The plan is to deploy 35 bikes, primarily along Esquimalt Road, as well as along the E&N Rail Trail; plans for the future include locations along Craigflower Road and Admiral Point. Currently, three operations staff in Victoria perform regular maintenance on the brakes and wheels and monitor the bikes to ensure safety for riders.
Coun. Susan Low moved to recommend staff draft an agreement similar to the one Victoria has with U-Bicycle to get the wheels in motion, which was passed unanimously.