Special Report: Cycling

Hamilton Bike Share Officially Launches

The new bike share network will have 750 bicycles at 110 hub stations across the city, spanning Dundas to Gage Park and the waterfront to Concession Street.

By Ryan McGreal
Published March 20, 2015

Hamilton Bike Share officially launched today at an upbeat, well-attended lunchtime ceremony at Gore Park.

Hamilton Bike Share launch ceremony
Hamilton Bike Share launch ceremony

The new bike share network will have 750 bicycles at 110 hub stations across the city, spanning Dundas to Gage Park and the waterfront to Concession Street. Around 300 bikes are already in circulation, with the rest being deployed tomorrow in a public ride that starts at Seedworks Urban Offices, 126 Catharine Street North, at 10:00 AM.

The $1.6 million capital cost for the bike share system was provided by the Province of Ontario through the Metrolinx Quick Wins fund. The operating cost is expected to be covered by membership fees and advertising on the system itself.

The bicycles, stations, software and other technologies the City selected for this service is provided by Social Bicycles, a company providing third-generation bike share systems in which the smart techology is embedded in the bikes themselves rather than expensive Bix-style hub stations.

In addition to Hamilton, Social Bicycles is providing bike share services in Phoenix AZ, Orlando FL, Tampa FL, Providence RI, Buffalo NY, San Francisco CA, Haile ID and the University of Virginia.

Hamilton's system is being operated and managed locally by a non-profit corporation called Hamilton Bike Share, an innovative operating model being tested here for the first time.

A monthly membership costs just $15 and includes up to 60 minutes of ride time every day for 31 days. An annual membership costs just $85 dollars - less than the cost of a monthly bus pass.

Peter Topalovic, Public Works manager for transportation demand management, kicked off the launch today by noting that since the pre-launch in mid-January, the bike share service has averaged more than 100 rides a day.

In total, early members have already taken over 5,000 trips totaling almost 9,000 kilometres despite the brutal winter that just ended. (For my own part, I've taken 56 trips covering 112 kilometres.)

From left: Brad Tyleman, Hamilton Cycling Committee; Matthew Green, Ward 3 Councillor; Paul Miller, MPP for Hamilton East-Stoney Creek; Monique Taylor, MPP for Hamilton Mountain; Gerry Davis, Public Works General Manager; David Christopherson, MP for Hamilton Centre; Gene Wasik, Hamilton Bike Share Executive Director; Ted McMeekin, MPP for Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale; Sean Burak, Hamilton Bike Share Operations Manager; Peter Topalovic, Public Works Manager for transportation demand management; Jason Farr, Ward 2 Councillor; Chelsea Cox, Hamilton Bike Share Community Manager; Chris Burke, Metrolinx director of service planning; Justin Wiley, Social Bicycles Vice President of business development
From left: Brad Tyleman, Hamilton Cycling Committee; Matthew Green, Ward 3 Councillor; Paul Miller, MPP for Hamilton East-Stoney Creek; Monique Taylor, MPP for Hamilton Mountain; Gerry Davis, Public Works General Manager; David Christopherson, MP for Hamilton Centre; Gene Wasik, Hamilton Bike Share Executive Director; Ted McMeekin, MPP for Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale; Sean Burak, Hamilton Bike Share Operations Manager; Peter Topalovic, Public Works Manager for transportation demand management; Jason Farr, Ward 2 Councillor; Chelsea Cox, Hamilton Bike Share Community Manager; Chris Burke, Metrolinx director of service planning; Justin Wiley, Social Bicycles Vice President of business development

The roster of speakers included Ted McMeekin, MPP for Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale and Liberal Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing; David Christopherson, NDP MP for Hamilton-Centre; Paul Miller, NDP MPP for Hamilton East-Stoney Creek; Ward 3 Councillor Matthew Green, bringing greetings from Mayor Fred Eisenberger, who was unable to attend; Gerry Davis, General Manager of the Public Works Department; Justin Wiley, Vice President of business development for Social Bicycles; and Brad Tyleman of the Hamilton Cycling Committee.

McMeekin drew cheers by citing the Liberal government's "activist agenda" to promote more active transportation in Ontario. He noted the new Provincial investment of $10 million over three years for municipalities to build more connected cycling facilities, as well as $15 million to add cycling infrastructure to provincial highways and bridges.

Hamilton City Council unanimously approved the Bike Share program less than a year ago. Originally, the system was supposed to be up and running by last summer, but that turned out to be an impossible deadline.

Most cities that adopt bike share programs take two or three years to deploy. Hamilton pulled off the tenth largest bike share in North America in less than a year.

See also:

CBC Hamilton was nice enough to publish an article by your humble RTH editor on my experience using the Hamilton Bike Share service over the past two months:

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted March 20, 2015 at 15:57:33

Wait so SoBi is literally deploying the rest of their fleet by having people ride it home? That is very cool!

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted March 20, 2015 at 16:03:25

I hoped to swing by to add one to the crowd and show support; could not get out this morning.

That is cool they shared the ridership numbers. That is so cool there were 100 rides a day, in the winter, before the launch; and 8 on the largest snowstorm of the year. A sign this program will be a big success. The presence of more cyclists will make the roads safer and validate a need to share the road and continue bike network initiatives.

An appropriate day to launch!

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted March 20, 2015 at 16:48:42 in reply to Comment 110341

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted March 20, 2015 at 17:06:30 in reply to Comment 110343

Why don't you let SoBi worry about that? There is no operating cost risk to the taxpayer.

It was either you or LOL that posted a comment not long ago asserting that no one would use the bike share. Here you see Hamilton with 36,500 rides a year before the program even opens and while most stations are still empty.

After a mix of successes early on, bike shares all over the world are maturing their finance models and turning profitable. SoBi is one that knows how to execute well. There is no basis for pessimism, unless it is one's default worldview.

Comment edited by mikeonthemountain on 2015-03-20 17:17:01

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 20, 2015 at 17:03:09 in reply to Comment 110343

Why don't you crunch those same numbers for sprawl first.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted March 20, 2015 at 16:47:05

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted March 21, 2015 at 16:11:39 in reply to Comment 110342

You can't even buy an adequate lock for that price; let alone buy the bike, maintain it, store it, and replace it when it eventually gets stolen.

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By Henry and Joe (anonymous) | Posted March 21, 2015 at 10:22:11 in reply to Comment 110342

From my experience, I can say that used bikes cost money too. For example, I have a used bike that I got for free. I've already spent over $300 in 3 years for a "beater" that is good enough to ride but just ugly enough to scare off potential thieves. The cost of the SoBi service is not high at all, considering the convenience and comfort it offers.

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By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted March 20, 2015 at 20:33:10 in reply to Comment 110342

Curmudgeonly skeptic being curmudgeonly.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted March 20, 2015 at 16:55:44 in reply to Comment 110342

Yes you are right. There's more to it than just that.

People getting on or off the GO have a bike available without carrying one on the train or bus. Secure bike parking at GO has/will increase to $90/y. One year of SoBi is a little cheaper than one year of secure bike parking.

Maintenance. Someone may find it easier and cheaper to use SoBi than maintain their own bike. Especially with what winter can do to a bike.

I've come back for bikes I locked up after a one-way ride, where the return trip fell under some other arrangement. SoBi would have been a nice option in those cases instead of leaving my bike somewhere.

I own three bikes and I can recall and imagine situations where using SoBi would be easier.

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By Steve (registered) | Posted March 22, 2015 at 09:33:49 in reply to Comment 110345

FTR, you can't take your bike on the GO Train out of GO Centre, as bikes are not permitted on trains during rush hour.

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted March 21, 2015 at 07:24:12 in reply to Comment 110345

Hang on ... Secure bicycle parking at GO stations is $90/yr, but car parking in GO lots is free?

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted March 21, 2015 at 16:13:52 in reply to Comment 110353

For what it's worth, GO parking lots are not secured.

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By Steve (registered) | Posted March 22, 2015 at 09:32:46 in reply to Comment 110370

Correct and unsecured bike parking at GO is free.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted March 21, 2015 at 14:34:01 in reply to Comment 110353

The province has been floating the idea of paying for parking since the lots have those obscenely expensive parking structures (each spot costs more than the car it holds). Obviously you can imagine how well that went over.

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By fmurray (registered) | Posted March 21, 2015 at 18:19:35 in reply to Comment 110368

Having car owners pay for parking would discourage people from using GO Transit, possibly adding to traffic on the QEW. But bike parking should also be free. And there should be a lot of it.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted March 21, 2015 at 18:28:30 in reply to Comment 110374

There is tons of free bike parking. Paying a nominal fee lets you put your bike behind a registered-fob protected door. I think it's a great deal. And, just to emphasize the footprint magnitudes, if all three of my bikes were stolen each year, it'd still be cheaper to cycle than pay a car, gas, insurance, repairs, amortization.

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted March 22, 2015 at 11:27:25 in reply to Comment 110375

I've been advocating at my own workplace for secure bicycle parking. One of my arguments has been that commuter cyclists (like me) would be willing to pay for it. But that's a different situation, because automobile parking (which is far more expensive to provide than secure bicycle parking) is not free at my workplace. I would have no problem with GO Transit charging $90/year for secure bicycle parking if they also charged a fair market rate for automobile parking.

The fundamental problem with transportation planning in Ontario is that private automobiles are subsidized by public roads, so everything else has to be subsidized in order to keep up. Free parking at GO stations encourages sprawl using a park-and-ride model. There's no incentive to develop or live near the station.

If the 400 series highways all had tolls using a cost-recovery model, then GO Transit could charge for parking without being uncompetitive. That would be sensible public policy: the user would pay for the cost of their own transportation, and we'd incentivize compact development rather than sprawl.

Charging $90 for secure bicycle parking is not a huge problem in the grand scheme of things, but it is a revealing demonstration of the perverse nature of our transportation policy.

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By fmurray (registered) | Posted March 21, 2015 at 14:15:56 in reply to Comment 110353

That's a good point, John. I'm going to email my MPP about that.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted March 20, 2015 at 21:52:30

My regular bike is a Pashley Roadster Sovereign. I like my bike!

Where I work, we have secure parking. Everywhere else in Hamilton, not so much. So I worry a bit about theft and vandalism. I've got a good U-lock for the frame and the bike has its integral rear wheel lock, but lights, etc. can be stolen.

So I use SoBi if I'm going downtown for any length of time. For example, on Monday I'm going to the Hamilton Transportation Summit. I'll take a SoBi bike there and back. Because I am just a little bit uncomfortable leaving my Pashley on the street all day long.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted March 21, 2015 at 19:32:40 in reply to Comment 110349

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted March 23, 2015 at 07:22:59 in reply to Comment 110376

The theft angle is not about being a public service --- it's a business case for why people will pay for a membership. Also, why would anyone steal a sobi? Who are you going to sell it to?

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By Steve (registered) | Posted March 22, 2015 at 09:42:35 in reply to Comment 110376

Bikes are easier to vandalize then cars as they are often victims of opportunistic vandalism.

They are parked close to where people walk past by and that means the odd person for whatever reason can kick a wheel breaking spokes or bending the rim, steal/break the light the light, tear the seat, etc.

To do the same to a car you have to walk off the street and into a parking lot.

Believe it, or not, that serves as a barrier.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted March 22, 2015 at 13:59:57 in reply to Comment 110387

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By Steven (anonymous) | Posted March 22, 2015 at 22:09:18 in reply to Comment 110392

Sure they can be damaged, but far fewer % of cars park along the road than % of bikes. Seriously, you don't have to disagree just for the sake of it,

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted March 22, 2015 at 16:08:38 in reply to Comment 110392

A bike IS way easier to steal off the street, and much less likely to be recovered. And any individual has just as much right to decide where to park what depending on what they are comfortable with, as you do. And I have family whose cars have vanished off the street also, and friends whose cars have been rummaged through while on the street. In all cases under the cover of night. Bikes and tires have disappeared from in front of the farmer's market in the middle of the day with all kinds of shoppers coming and going. It's a little harder to break into a car in the middle of the day.

Seriously, you don't have to argue just for the sake of arguing. What a ridiculous comment ;)

(It's okay, everyone's mouth gets ahead of their brain sometimes)

Comment edited by mikeonthemountain on 2015-03-22 16:19:53

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted March 21, 2015 at 19:51:10 in reply to Comment 110376

Dude, I went to the Farmer's Market one day, and in under 30 minutes my bike disappeared from the rack out front. Now I lock up at Hunter GO in secure parking, and walk to the market. My BikeSpike is on pre-order.

There is nothing novel or strange about Kevin being cautious about leaving a bike on the street, even locked. Eveyone will decide, based on the value of their bike and numerous other details, what their risk tolerance is.

As for SoBi bikes getting vandalized ... Paris had huge problems with vandalism. That is a legit risk factor. At least the bikespike equivalent is built in.

Comment edited by mikeonthemountain on 2015-03-21 19:54:13

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By MaryCrosser (registered) - website | Posted March 21, 2015 at 04:47:32

Hope there won't ba any troubles with more bikes ! I'll use it, I have to.

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By Haveacow (registered) | Posted March 21, 2015 at 08:07:12

I really hope it works. I hate to be on the side of the doubters but, the financial record for these companies is not good throughout North America. The chances of any profit are about 60-40 against. I always try to remain forever optimistic regarding bicycle sharing! Cross your fingers, because there are so many places and ways that these operations can and have failed.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 22, 2015 at 07:51:22 in reply to Comment 110355

The problems with some other bike Share stem mainly from the financial difficulties at the parent company for the Bixi system and operating models that required the operator to pay down the capital costs. Justin Jones has a great article outlining what happened and why Hamilton's system is different in both respects.

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted March 21, 2015 at 16:17:53 in reply to Comment 110355

The track record you speak of is for first- and second-generation systems like Bixi. This one has significantly cheaper costs per unit. Not that profitibility is a good metric. Is the HSR profitible? Are roads profitible?

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 21, 2015 at 10:19:39 in reply to Comment 110355

the fact that suburban sprawl and it's massive associated infrastructure costs has been one of the most heavily subsidized ways of life in human history hasn't stopped us from continuing to build more. I'm all for investing in other modes of transport like Bike Share even if it never makes a penny. At least there are huge health, quality of life and infrastructure cost benefits to the entire society when more people travel by bike.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted March 21, 2015 at 11:37:49 in reply to Comment 110359

This page comments on that, using DC as an example. Looking at the whole picture, as you suggest:

This alone justifies running any public transportation option at a deficit, especially bike share. Fiscal sustainability should be welcomed, but as a side-benefit. The number one metric in determining success should be ridership, e.g. vehicle miles prevented. One million rides in Cabi’s first year have accrued nearly 890,000 miles. At 39 cents per potential vehicle miles prevented, Capital Bikeshare gave DC taxpayers a maximum net savings of almost $350,000 in its first year.

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted March 21, 2015 at 09:27:06

Putting the $25M in perspective, the province plans to dedicate an average of $2.9B to transportation infrastructure annually over the next decade, or $8.7B over three years.

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By Steve (registered) | Posted March 22, 2015 at 09:51:44 in reply to Comment 110357

We can also say that Hamilton on its own runs a $120.8 Million yearly infrastructure deficit on roads alone.

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted March 22, 2015 at 14:46:40 in reply to Comment 110388

Or that $25M is basically Hamilton's share of the Clappison cloverleaf.

Or 10x what Toronto spent $2.5M on its Sherbourne bike lanes.

$25M is not exactly nothing, but at one-third of 1% of what the province is spending on transportation infrastructure, it is a bit innocuous.

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By Henry and Joe (anonymous) | Posted March 21, 2015 at 10:43:36

Sometimes I like to travel light, so I am wondering how the release of bikes works exactly. What if you don't have a phone with you? For example, the bike share in Rio De Janeiro required that you carry a phone with a data plan, so we never used them. Do you have to carry a card (Something like presto?). Can you just walk up to a bike and enter your ID/ pin number? What if you're a tourist without a phone plan. How easy is it for someone visiting who wants to use it for a weekend?

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted March 21, 2015 at 11:43:28 in reply to Comment 110361

You don't need a phone (although it helps finding out where bikes are) and you don't need a card. All you need is to remember your 6-digit id and 4-digit passcode that you enter directly on the keypad of the bike.

For a tourist I think the $4 hourly 'pay as you go' plan ($3 one time set up) would work. But you do need to register online (not necessarily using a phone ... an internet cafe or library with computers would work). I believe the usage is billed to the minute (at least it is for the subscription plans).

You do need a credit card or visa debit card.

The various plans are described here:

https://hamilton.socialbicycles.com/

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By SoBiHamilton (anonymous) | Posted March 21, 2015 at 16:43:01 in reply to Comment 110363

Later this spring, 10 payment kiosks will be installed through the system area where one can walk up and buy a membership without using a computer or data plan at all.

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By fmurray (registered) | Posted March 21, 2015 at 14:15:07

This is really awesome. Great work by Peter Topalovic and his group.

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By roadrash (registered) - website | Posted March 21, 2015 at 17:58:55

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By huh? (anonymous) | Posted March 21, 2015 at 21:21:53 in reply to Comment 110373

You're right, the "downtown loudmouth minority" always get their way. For example, they've been awarded complete streets, countless 2-way conversions, bus lanes, and LRT. Oh, wait, never mind......

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted March 21, 2015 at 19:56:51 in reply to Comment 110373

Just want to point out, early in the initiative, mountain councilors did not want bike share stations.

When the project was underway, that changed to "hey, where's mine?" So the initial zero planned mountain stations is already 4.

No matter where you are there is some distance away that you are from a GO station. And a car rental company. And an available car share vehicle. And a Timmies. And, uh, anything else. This system wants to and likely will expand. Slow down and think a little.

Comment edited by mikeonthemountain on 2015-03-21 20:08:21

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By yeah (anonymous) | Posted March 21, 2015 at 19:52:22 in reply to Comment 110373

Yeah, why can't all of the suburban opponents of infrastructure for alternative modes of transportation, such as the bus lane and the Cannon bike lane, have access to bike sharing as well? And while I think of it, why does downtown get all of the dangerous, one-way urban expressways? Sometimes I think this city just isn't fair.

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By SansEgo (anonymous) | Posted March 22, 2015 at 06:39:07

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted March 23, 2015 at 07:30:45 in reply to Comment 110381

Clearly you have never seen a pashley. Sick bikes, those.

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By Steve (registered) | Posted March 22, 2015 at 09:58:49 in reply to Comment 110381

Can't you go mock someone in a Honda, Toyota, BMW, Kia, Jaguar etc. I think you get the point.

BTW, I ride a Cannondale. An American brand, owned by a Canadian company, built in Taiwan.

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted March 22, 2015 at 08:45:08 in reply to Comment 110381

For that kind of money you could have bought something made in Canada.

He certainly could have, yes: a suit, for example, or a nice leather couch. Even a mountain bike or road bike.

Sadly, though, not a bike that like that. Last year, I tried to replace my (stolen) Dutch bike with a Canadian or American bike with the features which you find on that Pashley and any number of Dutch bikes ...

  • fully enclosed chain
  • dynamo-powered front and rear lights
  • wheel lock

Linus and Simcoe have the the right geometry and feel good, but they have none of the above. And while Simcoe is a Canadian brand, they're not actually made in Canada, as far as I know.

Comment edited by moylek on 2015-03-22 08:48:16

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By d.knox (registered) | Posted March 22, 2015 at 07:30:29 in reply to Comment 110381

Pashley's are beautiful bikes. If I had one, I'd talk about it it too. Why be so rude? The world isn't either/or, and Kevin already said he's going to use SoBi.

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By frickin ugly (anonymous) | Posted March 23, 2015 at 20:31:36 in reply to Comment 110382

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By Steve (registered) | Posted March 22, 2015 at 10:02:37

One thing I would love to see as part the evolution of Bikeshares is the ability to ride in other cities on your 'home' city membership.

Maybe one day.

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By Haveacow (registered) | Posted March 23, 2015 at 10:25:44

I have dealt with this type of bicycle share operating model before, my guess, you are way underestimating their operational costs. Most people and companies do at first. This model is heavily dependent on municipal operating grants when it has been successful, which are illegal in Ontario. The individual municipality can't legally do it, period. What can and often does happen is that the province or a federal institution does it on behalf of the municipality or as part of a program which requires municipal operating proportional or matching funds. Considering they have already got a big provincial capital grant I think it unlikely operating grants will continue as well.

In Ottawa the biggest of the Bike Share programs (1 of 4 operating in Ottawa) had its funding delayed when a group of cab companies successfully argued in the courts that certain grants amount to an unfair subsidy to a transportation company. Also, they have to pay for a municipal company wide operating license, a provincial requirement (the municipality can't say no to it) that costs a minimum of $52,000 a year. The other major cost underestimated by these companies when starting in operations in Canada is their insurance, averaging between $65,000-150,000 a year depending on the size of the bike share company and the number of their assets (bikes) and stations.

I am actually a big supporter and not against bike shares in anyway but, like most that have operated in Canada, they found that their operating models are overly optimistic and usually based on American weather patterns. What happens usually is that, if the system still operates at the end of the second or third year, the price will be at the least, triple what the original prices were. Almost all of these bike shares (90%) have lost money their first year and are still losing money by year 3 (55%). Remember the number of rides a day is almost meaningless here. What is important is the number of individual customers paying per month and the number of customers paying that ridiculously low $85 dollar yearly fee (discounted at 47.2% of the regular monthly fee). Even if its good for the city's transportation system, subsidizing a private business for too long a time, gets other businesses angry, very angry! They will and have sued over it before in Ontario and have won at the courts. So bike shares have to be very careful in how much and what they charge for.

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By CarolineLC (registered) | Posted March 23, 2015 at 10:59:20

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted July 16, 2015 at 12:22:05 in reply to Comment 110419

BUMP! (It's July now)

I reply to say -- we just out-bikeshared Toronto.

In less than 6 months, there is now more active SoBi members (>5000) in Hamilton, than Toronto has active BIXI members (4000).

And the area is bigger (45sqkm vs 15sqkm), more stations in Hamilton (119 vs 80), despite fewer bikes (750 vs 1000) due to ability to lock off-station, cheaper bike balancing cost (mostly crowd-sourced bike rebalancing thanks to automatic credits given to users), despite worse bike infrastructure (fewer nice bike routes in Hamilton).

As of June, I think Hamilton just proved itself, don't you think?

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2015-07-16 12:22:50

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted March 24, 2015 at 07:15:25 in reply to Comment 110419

Unless you happen to be one of the downtown elite,

Hoest to God, I just spewed coffee on my keyboard when I read that. Now the problem with downtown is the "elites."

Maybe one day, if revitalization goes well, we might be able to complain about downtown Hamilton being dominated by some soft of elites again.

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By Gored (anonymous) | Posted March 23, 2015 at 12:47:37 in reply to Comment 110419

I love how downtown is either a dump filled with unemployed lowlifes or a playground for over privileged elites, depending on what the downtown haters are trying to stop from happening.

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 23, 2015 at 16:45:59 in reply to Comment 110431

yup, totally. And how it sucks so bad that " I never go there anymore. Haven't been in YEARS".

Yet when we propose some simple safety improvements to our streets its, "WHAT?? That will slow me down when I'm downtown! If you calm these streets you might NEVER see me down there again!"

To which the city's reply should be "enjoy your life".

Comment edited by jason on 2015-03-23 16:46:16

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By SoBiHamilton (anonymous) | Posted March 23, 2015 at 11:40:26 in reply to Comment 110419

Riders are free to cycle outside of the service area, including locking a bike using the hold feature in order to run errands with no penalty. The out of area fee is for users who lock a bike outside of the service area and leave it (because of the operational cost to fetch bikes from afar).

Compared to the dock based systems such as in Toronto (where there is no way to stop outside of the service area - even for a coffee break), Hamilton's system is much more flexible.

We would love to hear your specific feedback about service areas and pricing - please drop us a line at help@sobihamilton.ca so we can include your ideas in future expansion discussions.

Thanks!

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted March 23, 2015 at 11:13:51 in reply to Comment 110419

Does your definition of "downtown" extend from Ottawa Street to Dundas and from the Waterfront to Concession? I've never heard of Gage Park or Westdale (one of the best served areas) referred to as "downtown" before.

That is a huge area of the city to be served in the very first phase of the service! Don't forget that Mountain councillors initially did not even want the stations in their wards!

Do you really think no service can be launched in the city unless it immediately reaches everyone? You don't think population density or potential use should play any role at all in deciding service coverage?

You do realize that this service is run by a not-for-profit company that is not being funded by the city (its initial capital grant was from Metrolinx from a fund that must be spent on active transportation). They need to have a financially viable service.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted March 23, 2015 at 11:29:41 in reply to Comment 110421

Especially since suburban councilors haven't exactly been encouraging of cycling infrastructure in their wards. I mean, you know what would be awesome for SoBi bikes? A bike lane running the full length of Queensdale. What happened to that one? Oh, right, councilor Jackson.

And Dundas. How does Dundas have no bike lanes once you hit the end of Coote's Drive? Dundas with one of the largest bike shops in the city and a massive network of trails, but no way for a cyclists to get around the city without racing traffic? Seriously, the north side of Hatt Street is dead space - a no-stopping-lane bereft of cars. Dundas St has 2 parked-car lanes that are empty 99% of the time - you could easily cut that down to 1 parked-car lane and properly mark some spacious bike lanes.

SoBi is where the cyclists are, and cyclists are where the cycling infrastructure is.

I don't know whether or not "if you build it, they will come" is true, but I'm quite positive that the inverse is true:

If you don't build it, they won't come.

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By CarolineLC (registered) | Posted March 24, 2015 at 10:33:22 in reply to Comment 110424

How would a bike lane on Queensdale be awesome for SoBi bikes? Where are you going to ride to - scoot across to Upper Ottawa and then go to the Huntington Park rec centre? Nope ... SoBi will fine you $100 to go there and lock the bike so you could go inside. Maybe turn off at Upper Gage and go to Goodness Me for some groceries? Nope - that will cost you another $100. Hill Park rec centre? Macassa Park? Mohawk College? Nope, nope, and nope. $100 penalty each time.

The problem isn't lack of bike lanes, its that lots and lots of folks -whose tax dollars are part of that Metrolinx grant too - are being denied use of the service to places they might like to go via punitive charges. Queensdale is already totally ridable - wide, quiet, and not a lot of gunk in on the sides of the road. But SoBi isn't giving any of us who might use that road to actually GO somewhere a chance to use it.

PS: Instead of the city spending money on ghettoizing us into "lanes", the best thing they could do for cyclists is to raise some taxes and fix the darn roads. I'd rather deal with cars than potholes :(

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 24, 2015 at 11:59:34 in reply to Comment 110457

How would a bike lane on Queensdale be awesome for SoBi bikes?

The author's point is that the initial Bike Share service area is that part of the city that is initially well-suited to a successful bike share with the most compatible land use and cycling infrastructure, as well as local political support.

The mountain councillors originally voted to support the bike share as long as it wasn't pushed into their wards, a position consistent with local decisions to veto bike lanes since mountain councillors have believed that people only want to ride bikes recreationally.

SoBi will fine you $100 to go there and lock the bike so you could go inside.

Where are you getting this? The cost to lock a bike outside a hub station is $3.

Alternately, you can put the bike "on hold" while you're inside the store, with the proviso that your usage time accumulates. If you go over your time limit, the overage fee is $5 an hour, pro-rated by the minute.

Queensdale is already totally ridable

Most people disagree with you on this and will not ride a bicycle in mixed traffic, no matter how much vehicular cyclists insist it is safe to do so. In North America, we have spent decades without success telling people to ride bikes like automobiles, while other places have proven us wrong by investing in cycling infrastructure and attracting increasing numbers of people to choose cycling.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2015-03-24 12:09:31

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By CyclingHamilton (registered) - website | Posted March 25, 2015 at 07:23:26 in reply to Comment 110460

Where is the OP getting that? From the organization's own website. It specifically states that locking a bike outside of the "service area" will result in a 100 dollar charge. This has also been confirmed via email by the Social Bicycles Hamilton staff.

It's easy to SAY they are waiving the fee, but until an official statement from SoBi confirms - and they change their Terms and Conditions to match - the official policy should be taken at face value.

And, when push comes to shove, the fact is that we ALL paid for this with our tax bucks - we should ALL get a chance to partake.

That said, you are correct in your dispute of the Queensdale assertion. Fennell remains a much, much better option for commuting because you can manage your speed to hit all the traffic lights in their green phase. Queenston is littered with stop signs, which generally trumps wide lanes. Fennell and Mohawk are still far and away the best east-west routes in the upper city.

Comment edited by CyclingHamilton on 2015-03-25 07:43:02

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By haters be haters (anonymous) | Posted March 25, 2015 at 08:51:47 in reply to Comment 110495

Obviously nothing anyone says is going to change your mind because you have a chip on your shoulder.

But it should be reiterated (to be clear to anyone who reads your junk) that metrolinx is provincial. So someone in Larder Lake paid for this just as much as you did.

"When push comes to shove" should there be a Hamilton bike share station in Larder Lake? Thunder Bay? After all, it's only fair.

There has to be a limit. Want it expanded? Ask council to fund it because to date they haven't committed any budget $$

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 25, 2015 at 07:47:13 in reply to Comment 110495

So I checked with Hamilton Bike Share and they confirmed that the $3 out-of-hub fee doesn't apply when locking up a bike outside the boundaries of the service area. However, as noted, you are able to ride outside the service area and put your bike "on hold" while doing an errand, and SoBi recommends this to avoid an out-of-system fee.

Also, the local fees are set and customized by the local service provider, not by SoBi, so if Hamilton Bike Share says they are waiving the out-of-system fee, they are waiving the out-of-system fee. Of course, that may be subject to change if it becomes prohibitively expensive to retrieve bikes left far outside the boundary.

As it is, the Fennell Avenue boundary is a kilometre out from the southernmost bike stations on Concession at Juravinski Hospital and Mounain Drive Park. That seems like a reasonable compromise for an operations team that needs to retrieve abandoned bikes.

It's not an ideal solution but it seems like a pretty good start. The initial service area encompasses over 30 square kilometres, which is an impressive rollout for the first phase of the system.

Incidentally, I'm all for expanding the bike share program further onto the Mountain, but as noted, the Mountain councillors originally insisted that the bike share not be deployed in their wards.

Bike Share will be expanded if it is successful and if people living outside the service area engage their councillors to expand it and provide supportive infrastructure.

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By CarolineLC (registered) | Posted March 24, 2015 at 15:47:30 in reply to Comment 110460

Nope. Locking a bike outside of the "service area" will cost you $100. Period. I confirmed this with Chelsea at SoBi directly. The "service area" ends at Fennell Ave - because I guess no one in Hamilton lives or goes to that wilderness, or east of Ottawa Street apparently - check the map on their web site and read the FAQ if you want confirmation for yourself.

We ALL paid for this via Metrolinx. We should at least get to use the service to go places where we work and shop and live. The easy compromise would be to allow daytime locking of the bikes outside of the service area for the $3 fee as long as they get back to the hub before some sort of evening curfew time. The real solution would be to service the whole city and treat everyone as equals. Sadly, it doesn't seem at this point that SoBi is interested in either.

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By weird (anonymous) | Posted March 24, 2015 at 19:09:48 in reply to Comment 110475

Caroline, why don't you take your complaints to your councillor who opposed the stations in your ward. Your frustrations seem a little misdirected. How is this the fault of downtown "elites," as you have called them? They have been unable to convince councillors to award them any of their wants, including walkable neighbourhoods, 2-way streets, bus lanes or LRT.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted March 24, 2015 at 17:18:23 in reply to Comment 110475

Currently, there is not even a $3 fee being charged for not return your bike to a rack, and Sean announced on Saturday that they will try to avoid charging the fee as long as possible.

Perhaps the policy could be changed to allow parking a bike outside of the service area without putting it on hold (for a fairly short time, say an hour). But the whole point of bike share is to keep the bikes available for other users, which means they need to be within the service area as much as possible. They are not supposed to be kept as personal bikes for an entire day.

And, once again, you CAN place the bike on hold outside the service area while you go in to do shopping or grab a coffee.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-03-24 17:19:21

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted March 24, 2015 at 10:54:40 in reply to Comment 110457

Please read the reply above from a SoBi rep. You can go to all those places you list, as long as you make a return trip.

Why don't you advocate for a station at some of those locations. (Although since SoBi is reading this thread, I guess you just did).

As for bike lanes - they help on busy roads, because, right or wrong (wrong), some motorists have difficulty sharing the road. 999 out of 1000 cars can pass safely, it only takes that one emotionally weak motorist to road rage, buzz too close, or otherwise vent dissatisfaction about having to pass a slower moving vehicle in the right lane, to make the entire trip unpleasant and scary. So we really do need more bike lanes to get people cycling.

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By CarolineLC (registered) | Posted March 24, 2015 at 15:49:50 in reply to Comment 110459

Check the web site map and FAQ yourself. Fennell is the end of the "service area". Lock a bike outside of that - or east of Ottawa - and its $100. I mailed the staff to be sure, because I couldn't believe it either.

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By CyclingHamilton (registered) - website | Posted March 23, 2015 at 11:25:52 in reply to Comment 110421

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Comment edited by CyclingHamilton on 2015-03-23 11:29:24

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted March 23, 2015 at 11:38:25 in reply to Comment 110422

I should have been clearer on the management structure:

Hamilton's bike share is run by the not for profit corporation Hamilton Bike Share Incorporated (HBSI). It actually runs the service and owns the bikes, but it pays a fee to SOBI to license the technology that runs the bike share software etc. HBSI is a completely separate company from SOBI but it uses their technology and branding.

(I haven't experienced any problems riding with stuff in the basket ... it is a very long wheel base bike. It is pretty traditional to have front mounted baskets on city bicycles.)

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-03-23 11:56:50

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted March 24, 2015 at 18:30:27 in reply to Comment 110425

Not to mention that the government owned Bixi system also uses front baskets.

Well... Bixi was subsequently sold to the private sector. Montreal owned the system when the bikes were first launched. The socialist design has not changed.

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By roadrash (registered) - website | Posted March 24, 2015 at 12:09:17 in reply to Comment 110425

This brings up a very interesting point: While HBSI is a local company, all of the interactions with the web site and mobile apps - specifically, signing up and providing user information - are via a sub-domain of the Social Bicycles Inc. corporate infrastructure. That puts HBSI in direct violation of the federal PIPEDA privacy rules in Canada. That data must be held in a jurisdiction that is governed by Canadian privacy laws, and users must also be assured of those rights in the Privacy Agreement as agreed to by the consumer - HBSI appears to fail on both counts here.

That becomes especially worrisome when taken in context of the section of the Privacy Agreement that states that GPS data may be held - and associated with personal information - indefinitely.

Fortunately, it is easy to register a PIPEDA complaint online. I would suggest the easiest way to get HBSI to modify their data retention policies to be more palatable would be for as many concerned citizens as possible to fill out the form at:

https://www.priv.gc.ca/complaint-plainte...

It only takes a minute or two, and will be hard for HBSI to ignore.

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