Hamilton Getting a First-Class Bike Share, Hits the Road in April

on

Barring any big surprises, Hamilton’s getting a first-class bike share program this spring.

An information report to be received by the Public Works Committee on Monday provides the details.

Concept Map from RFP process
Concept Map from RFP process

Council decided in March 2013 to invest funds from Metrolinx in creating a bike share.

Peter Topalovic, a raising star in the bureaucracy, guided the project to a Request for Proposal and the successful bidder – Social Bicycles – will have the first bicycles on the road this April.

At a cost of $1.6 million, the City will purchase 650 bicycles to be located at 65 stations across Hamilton. The bike share program will be run by a local non-profit and will not receive any City funding beyond this initial capital investment.

All liability and costs for the bike share will be borne solely by Social Bicycles and the local non-profit to be created. The city is not on the hook for either.

Ryan McGreal at Raise the Hammer provides an excellent overview of the technology:

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.

Exact details such as locations of the bicycle stations and the cost will be finalised and announced before the launch in April.