Transportation

Imagine a City-Wide Bike Rental Program

By Jason Leach
Published July 19, 2007

I was down at Hutch's last night with the family and noticed that there are bike rentals now available down by Baranga's.

It got me thinking: why couldn't Hamilton start a modest version of the bicycle renting program just launched in Paris?

People can rent daily, weekly, or monthly and we could have stations set up at various locations, such as:

And so on. Basically, I'm thinking of high density urban neighbourhoods, employers and tourist attractions. The bike stations could have covered lock stations, lockers and possibly showers available.

I can't imagine a program like this would cost much to start, and costs can be offset with the memberships. It would be great for local residents and tourists.

What do you think? Is this a good idea or am I missing something? Maybe everyone in Hamilton already owns a bike...

I mean, if the costs can be covered through people buying memberships and some help from the city budget (maybe they can give cycling more than $300,000 in future years) it would seem like a no-brainer.

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted July 19, 2007 at 15:31:36

Here's my idea for a program: free bikes given out to kids -- but to get the bike they have to build the bike. Then they not only get a bike but lifelong skills to maintain and repair bikes.

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By peter (anonymous) | Posted July 20, 2007 at 00:28:34

it's a great idea but this city's a dangerous place to ride a bike. i suppose it would be a good start towards making this a friendlier place for cyclists, though. let's do it!

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted July 20, 2007 at 08:36:58

Yep. More cyclists on the road = safer cycling for everyone...

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 20, 2007 at 09:42:53

"it's a great idea but this city's a dangerous place to ride a bike"

Last week's View Magazine had an article that made the same case - it's too dangerous to ride a bike in Hamilton. Frankly, I just don't buy it.

I ride a bike on the streets every day and my experience has been that with a very few exceptions, the overwhelming majority of motorists are reasonably civil and respectful and obey the law. I feel about as safe cycling as I feel driving; I'm less protected, but I avoid fast-moving streets and I have more options to avoid a collision on a bike.

If anything, my only problem is that some motorists tend to yield their right of way to me, especially at four-way stops when they got there first. This leads to back-and-forth confusion as to who's going to go.

(I expect this is due to at least partially to motorists' experience with some cyclists blowing stop signs and otherwise ignoring the HTA. Not only are they endangering themselves, but also they're putting cyclists who follow the rules at greater risk.)

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By Gump (anonymous) | Posted July 20, 2007 at 16:31:21

Great idea, especially the shower/locker stations. I'd gladly pay a nominal fee to have facilities available so that I can arrive at my destination knowing I can shower/change before my appointment.

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By Gump (anonymous) | Posted July 20, 2007 at 16:41:21

Also, some sort of automated lift for bicycles to get up (and down) the mountain. Bringing back the incline railway would be my first preference, but if not, there must be some simple, inexpensive way to tow bikes up the hill. As our population ages, the mountain becomes quite an obstacle to the cyclist, and thus forces us to other means of transportation. The trough at selected stairs is fine for the young, but I wouldn't try it again without my cell phone on and 911 predialed!!

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By Dabsweetie (anonymous) | Posted July 22, 2007 at 21:56:54

Cycling anyway in the world is a great alternative to jumping into a motorized vehicle to move ass from A to B (often less than 5 minutes away). We could get ourselves into shape, show greater respect for the environment and get those stupid phones off the ears. So why aren't getting the names of people (who want this) onto a list and sending it off to City Council with the intention of seeing those who we've elected (or not)sit up and listen to what we want(and need)? My name can be the first on the list. And then there's Peter - who said "Let's do it"
Dwayne Alexander Brown
contact me @ dabsweetie@hotmail.com if you're interested

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By Hopeful Comments (anonymous) | Posted July 24, 2007 at 11:33:24

Anything to promote cycle use in Hamilton is a start and rental bikes may be one option. That said, I hope we see more demands for friendly pathways once a critical mass of riders begin to want to use their own bikes. I find it sad that I don't feel safe biking to the wonderful trails like those at Bayfront, in Dundas or along the lake with my kids from where we live near Main & Sherman. This may be improved a bit if some of the ideas proposed in the City's May 2007 Cycling Network Strategy Working Paper come to pass, but it's hard to tell (the poor quality of the maps in the pdf version made available to the public make ascertaining much of anything a bit of a chore!!!). In the meantime I'm still waiting for bike racks on the HSR (to commence next week but with no guarantee they'll be on the buses that you need them on). Keep agitating folks. There's so much more that we can do! Thanks for all your work on this.

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By Hopeful Comments (anonymous) | Posted July 24, 2007 at 13:58:41

A little off topic from the bike discussion here but I guess the "rental" idea got me thinking of it...
Does anyone out there know if Hamilton has ever had a car share option like Auto Share or Zipcar in Toronto, or if anybody has looked into starting one up?
It would be perfect for so many people I know.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted July 30, 2007 at 09:46:24

I think car share is a great idea. Lots of people can't get past the fact that they aren't the exclusive owner of a vehicle though. sad.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted July 30, 2007 at 13:31:22

Just got back from Philadelphia and we saw the Philly Car Share cars everywhere we went (www.phillycarshare.org). From what I hear from my American friends, Philadelphia is becoming a city of choice for young college grads looking to live a car free life. The downtown is very pedestrian-friendly, but I heard lots of griping about the transit system. You're right Sean, it will never appeal to the folks who see vehicle ownership as some kind of validation, but it is doubtless one of the things that makes Philadelphia appealing to the car free crowd.

And I have to confess to being one of those drivers who yields to cyclists. Been burned too many times. I also hesitate before making a right hand turn at a stop sign or traffic light. Been burned often enough by cyclists blowing past me on the right. As you say, Ryan, dangerous and unfair to their fellow cyclists.

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By thought (anonymous) | Posted June 14, 2008 at 12:22:14

Instead of having bike lanes on the road, why don't they expand the side walk (into the bike lane on the road) and have a safe bicylce lane for people to ride as they do in Germany and Holland. Less chance of being hit by cars who are still not use to bikes on the road.

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