Could bikes like this one soon roll through Saanich? Council Monday will consider a recommendation to contact the company that currently rents out these bikes in Victoria through an app. Photo contributed

Saanich looks to saddle up with bike-share program

Will Victoria-based U-Bicycle consider expansion into Saanich?

They are green, look pretty hip, and could eventually roll into Saanich.

Saanich’s bicycle and pedestrian mobility advisory committee wants the municipality to find out whether U-bicycle, a Vancouver-based company offering an app-powered bike sharing program, could expand from Victoria into Saanich.

Specifically, the committee recommends that council write to the company to inquire whether they are “interested in making an application to operate in the District of Saanich.”

Dating back to Sept. 2017, Victoria residents can rent one of the company’s distinctive white-green aluminum-framed bicycles for $1 per 30 minutes. Each bike includes a Global Positioning System (GPS) and a self-activating lock. This combination of elements allows riders to drop off their bike anywhere, provided the parking location is safe and legal.

Using a down-loadable app, would-be riders can then easily find and unlock a bike near them, each of which comes with a helmet and a carbon belt drive system. Riders can then use the app to lock the bike. The app already functions beyond the municipal boundaries of Victoria, the company’s first North American location.

Regardless of the current borders, U-bicycle has previously declared it plans to expand across Canada, and Saanich appears to be a more natural fit.

Rebecca Mersereau, who sits on the committee recommending Saanich reach out to the company, said the program would be welcomed.

“It’s one of many ways to improve transportation options for people at low cost, and could help draw tourists into Saanich as well with our fabulous Galloping Goose and Lochside Trail network,” she said.

Mersereau, an avid cyclist herself, heard about the company during a presentation at the annual general meeting of the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition.

It’s an “extremely inexpensive” mode of transportation that would require no direct financial support from the municipality, she said. It would require only a business license and the go-ahead to park the bikes around town, which could potentially contravene some bylaws, she added.

Bicycle-sharing programs are common in continental Europe, and are spreading across North America.

wolfgang.depner @saanichnews.com

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