Social Bicycles launches this summer with 750 bicycles across 80 stations.
By Ryan McGreal
Published February 14, 2014
this article has been updated
A new Bike Share is rolling into Hamilton. With a new website and a local non-profit organization to administer the program locally, work is underway to launch the service this year.
According to a City news release, the new service will launch in "early summer" with 750 bicycles and 80 stations. That is actually higher than the 650 bikes and 65 stations specified in the proposal submitted to the City by Social Bicycles, the company behind the program.
A preliminary station map has proposed station locations ranging from Dundas to Wentworth Street and from the North End to the Escarpment.
Organizers are still soliciting feedback on proposed station locations. You can suggest a location using SoBi's Social Cyclist smartphone app, available on Android and iPhone. Alternately, you can submit ideas by email at email@example.com or by phone at 905-546-2424 x2553.
SoBi has been able to provide more bikes than the City initially expected due to their lower-cost bike share technology, which avoids the necessity for expensive 'smart' docking stations. Each bike includes an integrated U-lock connected to a GPS-enabled on-board computer to track the bike's location, who has signed it out and when/where it is locked and released.
The system also tracks bike locations in real-time. Using the Social Cyclist app on a web browser or mobile device, you will be able to see where the nearest bike is located, how many bikes are available in each station, and so on, and even make a reservation.
After reserving a bike, you can unlock it with your PIN code and ride to your destination. Once you arrive, just lock your bike at the nearest bike corral and the bike is released from your account.
Because the technology to operate the share is self-contained in the bikes themselves, this approach saves the cost of dedicated share management stations and makes the system more flexible, while reducing the capital cost barrier to expanding the network with more bikes. It also means the bikes will be harder to steal.
The user fee structure is as follows: a 30 day membership is $15 or a 12 month membership is $85. Membership includes up to 60 minutes of daily free usage, with $5 an hour for use beyond an hour, pro-rated to the second.
If you don't return the bike to a dedicated station, you have to pay a $3 "locking out of hub" fee. On the other hand, if you pick up a bike from outside a station, you get a $3 redistribution credit.
Last spring, Council approved a staff motion to issue a request for proposals (RFP) to launch and operate a bike share program in Hamilton. The capital cost would be entirely funded by Metrolinx through their Quick Wins fund, and the operating costs would be self-financed by the share itself.
Last November, City staff released a report that SoBi had been selected as the successful proponent of the City's RFP.
Council approved the bid in December and work commenced on putting the plan into action.
SoBi is providing the bicycles and user technology, but the day-to-day operation of the program in Hamilton will be managed by a local non-profit organization.
The non-profit is looking for an Executive Director (you can view the job posting [PDF]), a community manager and a redistribution and maintenance staffer.
Update: - updated to clarify that pay-as-you-go does not include a free hour. You can jump to the changed paragraph .
Update 2: - updated further to get the correct pricing for pay-as-you-go. You can jump to the added paragraph. RTH regrets the error.
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