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 [email protected]. 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.


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