Suggested bike share stations across Hamilton.

Hamilton will soon be home to a bike share program. Starting this summer, a partnership between the City of Hamilton and Social Bicycles will offer 750 bikes at 80 stations across the city.

The bicycles will be available to users for a small fee ranging from $3 single-rides to $85 year-long memberships. Bikes can be reserved using the Social Cyclist smartphone app or by using a keyboard on any of the bicycles. An unlock code then frees the bike, and riders can keep the bicycle for as long as is paid for. Bikes must be returned to one of the 80 hub locations at the end of the allotted time to avoid extra fees.

“We’re excited to add this travel choice to our existing range of transportation options to make travelling even more convenient and sustainable,” said Peter Topalovic, Project Manager of Transportation Demand Management with the City of Hamilton.  “Bike Share is the fastest growing transportation mode in the world, complementing existing public transit and providing first and last mile connectivity by filling in transit gaps.  It’s a healthy, sustainable, and affordable form of public transportation.”

Exact implementation dates are currently unknown, with their website simply promising to have the program in place “by summer 2014.”

Pricing options for Hamilton's incoming bike share program.

The 80 docking station locations are also still to be determined. Members of the public are encouraged to suggest where stations should be by using the app or by sending an email to So far, votes have favourited a McMaster location as well as many hotspots near Jackson Square in the downtown core.

In introducing a public bike share program, Hamilton is following in the footsteps of other major Canadian and international cities. While bike share programs are a successful staple in European metropolises, Canadian cities have had some difficulty sustaining the systems. Toronto’s bike program, introduced in 2011, went bankrupt in 2013 from underuse, leaving the City to take on the full amount of the cost.

In Vancouver, an integrated bike share and helmet rental system is being proposed with its own slew of complications. That program is due to roll out this spring.


On the agenda, major items up for discussion were endorsing a Hamilton bike share program, anti-oppression training for MSU staff and SRA members, an MSU transit policy, changes to the student health plan and the final report from the democratic reform committee.

SRA to consider endorsing Hamilton bike share
Editorial: Need for SRA reform persists

A new bike share program seeks to make cycling around Hamilton and McMaster a more accessible option for commuters.

On Feb. 25, Peter Topalovic, with the City’s transportation demand management department, presented an implementation plan for a public bike share program to Hamilton City Council.

The plan proposes that 350 bikes be stationed at 30 points along the A-line and B-line transit routes. Users would pay a nominal fee to use a bike for a short period of time. As part of the “fourth-generation model,” the program is intended to integrate with rapid and public transit systems already in place.

Bike share would target Hamilton’s downtown core and west end. It would cost $1.6 million, to be covered by private stakeholders and Metrolinx, subject to funding approval.

Vivek Govardhanam, an SRA engineering representative, wants the SRA to endorse bike share in Hamilton. He will present a motion at the Assembly’s meeting this Sunday.

“We want to bring the idea of bike share to the mainstream,” said Govardhanam. “I think it would add a lot of symbolism if the MSU goes out and says, ‘we think it’s a very good idea to have this in Hamilton.’”

Govardhanam has been working with McMaster students Colin Delsey, Jason Yeng and Raheel Syed to raise awareness about bike share. The group has also been in consultation with the Office of Sustainability.

“McMaster is not going to have bike share for now, or for the next two or three years at least. But in the future we want to have bike share on campus. We want to encourage bike culture on campus,” said Govardhanam, who would like to see an ad hoc committee established by next year’s SRA.

Conversations about a possible bike share program in Hamilton first started in 2009. A feasibility study was conducted by two Arts & Science students, and a market analysis was conducted by MBA students.

“I think McMaster has been with us from day one,” said Topalovic.

According to Topalovic, the program would help to eliminate the ‘first and last mile barriers’ faced by commuters.

“A number of medium-sized cities are doing bike share, too,” he said. “It’s not just for the big cities like Toronto and New York.”

At the Feb. 25 transit budget meeting, Topalovic asked to move forward to the ‘request for proposal’ stage. Councillors have asked for more clarification about the experiences of other cities in terms of funding and infrastructure. The bike share plan will be revisited in the next budget approval meeting on March 27.

Subscribe to our Mailing List

© 2022 The Silhouette. All Rights Reserved. McMaster University's Student Newspaper.