The Bike Share will include 65 stations and 650 bicycles using SoBi's next-generation bike share system, in which the functionality is all contained within the bike itself, rather than in specialized stations.
By Ryan McGreal
Published November 29, 2013
An Information Report [PDF] going to the Public Works Committee on December 2 identifies Social Bicycles (SoBi) as the "successful Proponent" of the city's request for proposals (RFP) on operating a bicyle share in Hamilton.
Social Bicycles bike (Image Credit: Social Bicycles)
The Bike Share, approved on May 27, will include 65 stations and 650 bicycles using SoBi's next-generation bike share system, in which the functionality is all contained within the bike itself, rather than in specialized 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. From 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 City will install 65 bike locking stations within the service area, which should benefit cyclists using their own bikes as well as cyclists using the Bike Share.
Under the five-year renewable contract between Social Bikes and the City, the $1.6 million capital cost will be covered by the City using Quick Wins money provided by Metrolinx. That includes the cost to purchase the 650 bikes and 65 stations, and to assist with installing the stations within the service area.
SoBi will assume full legal and financial responsibility to cover the operating costs via user fees, memberships, sponsorships and advertising. The day-to-day operation will be managed by a local not-for-profit group overseen by SoBi.
The BoBi RFP submission covers all of the requirements established by Council when it approved the plan, so it should be able to move quickly into implementation. SoBi currently operates bike shares in Hoboken, Buffalo, New York and Orlando.
Early on, it was widely assumed that Bixi would likely end up as the bike share provider. However, a clerical error in its submission to the City's RFP disqualified it.
This may have been a blessing in disguise, as the Montreal-based (and city-owned) corporation has experienced serious financial troubles in recent months. A planned bike share in Vancouver has been delayed due to the company's cash flow problems.
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