Vancouver Bike Share: Part of the Growing Economy of Sharing in BC

August 09, 2016

By Evan Kelly, Senior Communications Advisor for BBB serving Mainland BC

Economies are rarely a static thing. The peaks and troughs of any business cycle have been waving through society for as long as anyone can remember. When things change, hopefully for the better, it is often described as the new economy. Maybe a new technology shifts the economy, or simply a shift in our perspective moves money differently.

For several years we have been watching this shift as the new economy grows into a model where sharing becomes the norm. The new sharing economy is sometimes attributed to the economic meltdown of 2008. Many of today’s sharing companies started around then as a way to alleviate financial burdens on things that were expensive but not fully utilized. Access trumps ownership became the mantra. It’s no longer just B2B or B2C in the marketplace, now there’s P2P (Peer to Peer), and we’re seeing even more of it here in Vancouver.

Car share programs are already no stranger to Vancouver as companies like Modo and Car to Go start to dot the urban landscape. They have been making headway into numerous B2B deals, pairing up with the likes of Park ‘N Fly to help people get to where they need to go. Obviously, in the heart of a metropolis like Vancouver where many don’t need a full-time vehicle, sharing just makes sense. It doesn’t stop at transportation. The sharing business model extends to other facets of life such as property rentals through the likes of AirBnB and VRBO. 

You likely have noticed the shiny new bike stations set up around Vancouver. Mobi Bikes is a subsidiary of CycleHop and has been set up by the city of Vancouver to help people get around, and on a larger theme, to advance Vancouver’s environmental goals.

There have been a couple of hiccups along the way. A number of businesses have complained about the location of the multi-bike setups and the city has graciously moved them in at least one case. So far the program, which runs users between 180 and 240 dollars a year, is showing some signs of success.

Mia Kohout is the general manager of Vancouver Bike Share which received $5 million from the city to run the system for five years. She tells the Vancouver Sun she was “totally blown away” by the number of members who have signed on to date. That number is set to sail over 3000, if it hasn’t already.

“It was our hope, obviously, when you launch a system to see numbers like this, but it is beyond what we expected,” Kohout tells the Sun.
One other issue is early adopters who like to simply try things can’t just plop in a few coins and go for a ride, they have to buy a full membership. Vancouver Bike Share is said to be working on a ‘casual’ system to implement.

“Vancouver already tops North America for active transportation. Adding Mobi bike share to the mix will help further extend the reach of walking and transit trips, and change the way people get around Vancouver,” says Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson.

It’s fair comment to say Vancouver could be the perfect city for such an initiative. A central populace that lives, works and plays in one area. Another upside? So far the company says not one Mobi Bike has been stolen by thieves.

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