News / Edmonton

Bike-share program could roll out in Edmonton soon

A $459,000 budget request has been put forward for a bike-sharing strategy by 2018.

Bixi is a not-for-profit bicycle-sharing system developed in Montreal, and launched in Toronto in 2011.

TorStar news service

Bixi is a not-for-profit bicycle-sharing system developed in Montreal, and launched in Toronto in 2011.

Edmonton commuters may soon be able to get around by bike without owning one, thanks to a city plan to explore the viability of bike-sharing.

It’s been a boon in other cities, allowing members to grab a bike from one lock-up point and ride it to another as a means of getting around town.

Daniel Vriend, the city’s general supervisor of sustainable transportation, is hoping council supports a $459,000 budget request to put together a bike-sharing strategy by 2018.

He said there are many benefits to bike-sharing, and the perfect time to roll it out in Edmonton is coming.  

“The idea is for (the strategy) to be timed with major bike routes opening in the heart of the city, on 102 Avenue and 83 Avenue,” Vriend said. “The other piece that it co-ordinates well with is the coming LRT.”

He explained there is a radius around transit centres of people who can access it quickly by walking, and the radius increases—thereby upping transit ridership—when people can feasibly bike to transit.

“It extends transit’s reach quite a bit,” he said, adding that there are health and economic benefits.

Chris Chan, president of the Edmonton Bicycle Commuters Society, said it would also be great for visitors to take in more of the city.

“Edmonton has the River Valley and so many new attractions opening up downtown—the museum, art gallery, arena,” he said. “The distances in Edmonton are greater than in some denser cities, so a bike is quite effective at shrinking those distances.”

However, both Chan and Vriend say more complete cycling infrastructure is needed before bike-sharing really works well enough to reap any of those benefits.

“Having a plan in place of how it would look (is best), so we don’t get to the point where we have a strong network and haven’t started thinking about bike share,” Chan said.

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