Dozens of media workers showed up today at City Hall to hear speakers and ask questions — Jerry Dobrovolney (CoV Engineering), Charles Gauthier (DVBIA), Josh Squire (CycleHop CEO).
Mr. Squire is clearly media-savvy, and in around 10 minutes of air time, mentioned “sponsorship opportunities” at least 6 times. Staying on message, big time.
The questions revolved around these issues: bike rental companies, helmets, costs.
On bike rental companies, I agree with many that bike share and day-rentals are different markets, with some overlap. Bike rentals are typically a day-or-afternoon-long, and bike-share use is typically 30 minutes or less (and gets very expensive as an all-afternoon option). Rentals are out-and-back; bike-share is pick up and drop off. This is similar to the difference between AVIS car rentals and car-share. They’re different markets with some overlap.
Anything that stimulates bike usage in Vancouver is good for bike sales, and may improve bike rentals to some extent.
The City has discussed this extensively with bike rental shop owners, and will not site bike-share corrals inside a yet-to-be-sized buffer zone around such shops.
Helmets. A bike-share bike will come with a new type of helmet, designed for the purpose by Bell helmets. CycleHop pledges to service these helmets daily and provide a liner for those worried about sanitation. My opinion is that this solution is a bit weak, but apparently we should not pin any hopes on a bike-share helmet exemption (or outright repeal) by the Provincial Gov’t.
The bikes are stable and heavy. I took one for a spin, and within 10 seconds had the “feel” of it. Its geometry and handling is quite different from my lovely Brodie. But not a problem. Bike features: chain drive, 7-speed internal rear hub, step-through frame, hub brakes, dynamo-driven front & rear lights, chain guard, skirt shield on rear wheel, kick-stand, onboard electronics.
Overall, I’m glad the CoV took its time to get this right, to learn from other cities, and for the “smart bike” option to become available. I agree with others that, like bike lanes and the Burrard Bridge, initial fear and skepticism will fade, and the bike-share system will become just another transportation option in Vancouver.