Tag Archives: bike

Mobi – Vancouver’s Bike Share

Mobi Bikes
Vancouver’s Mobi Bike Share has been slowly rolling out across the city. It looks like they are a month behind their original mid-June launch date, but progress is being made. I’ve seen partial bike share stations installed under the Cambie Bridge (south-side) and near the Creekside Community Centre.

Mobi Bike Station

In the next few weeks, 100 stations will be distributed throughout Vancouver’s core. The initial service area is east of Arbutus, west of Main, and north of 16th including Stanley Park (green area below).

Vancouver Bike Share Map

Update: Map of the initial stations is available here.

Here are the pricing options. First, you need to buy a membership (varying in length from 24 hours to 1 year). Most memberships come with free unlimited trips under 30 or 60 minutes. For longer trips, you pay an overage cost per half hour period. Currently, the only memberships for sale are the 1-year Founding Member ones.

Membership Length Signup Cost Free Trip Overage Cost
(per half hour)
Founder 1 1 year $99 30 min $2 (30-60 min)
$3 (>60 min)
Founder Plus 1 1 year $129 60 min $3
Monthly Basic 2 1 month $10 None $2
Monthly Standard 2 1 month $15 30 min $2 (30-60 min)
$3 (>60 min)
Monthly Plus 2 1 month $20 60 min $3
Day Pass 24 hours $7.50 30 min $3

1 – Founder prices only until June 30 (will likely be extended)
2 – 3 month minimum for monthly plans

Mobi Assembly Yard

From what I’ve been told from Mobi staff, bikes must be returned to a bike share station to end your trip. Each bike comes with a cable lock that extends from the right handlebar to the fork that can be used if you want to make a quick stop without ending your rental. As an extra security measure, the handlebars can’t be turned when the bike is locked (like an immobilizer). Helmets will be provided with each bike (left on the cable lock).

Mobi’s full Terms and Conditions  (Archived Doc).

Bike Share (Finally) Coming to Vancouver

Hubway
Vancouver is finally getting a bike share system. Fingers crossed, bikes should be on the ground and ready to roll mid-June.

It’s been a long road. The City of Vancouver first started exploring bike share systems in 2008, and signed an initial contract to deliver one in 2013 (but that fell through when BIXI went bankrupt).

The biggest hurdle has been our BC-wide, all-ages, mandatory helmet law (which I’ve written about before). There still doesn’t seem to be a good solution. When bike share was announced in 2013, the plan was to put yet-to-be-invented helmet vending machines at every station. 3 years later, that technology still doesn’t exist. Now the plan is to just leave helmets with the bikes and periodically clean them.

Ignoring the helmet problems, I think Vancouver’s done a great job choosing a bike share vendor and picking the initial service area. For bikes and stations, the provider will be Smoove. The main difference between Smoove and BIXI (which other Canadian cities have and most people are familiar with) is the Smoove bikes are smart and have minimal station requirements, while BIXI bikes are simple and the have the smarts. This means Smoove bikes have GPS tracking and can be locked anywhere (although there will still be dedicated stations), a system more like Car2Go.

Vancouver Bike Share Map
The initial service area will be east of Arbutus, north of 16th Ave, and west of Main street (including Stanley Park). There will be 1000 bikes and 100 stations at launch, expanding to 1500 bicycles at 150 stations by the end of 2016. If all goes well, the first expansion will move west to Macdonald (including Kitsilano) and east to Commercial Drive (the blue areas on the map above).

The initial area includes Vancouver’s densest neighbourhoods, the business district, 11 km of uninterrupted Seawall, the most popular tourist attractions in the city (Stanley Park, Granville Island, Vancouver Art Gallery, and Science World), plus separated bike lanes and bike routes with only modest hills. With 150 stations in the initial area, that would give Vancouver a station density close to New York. Imagine stations every 2 blocks in most areas (see this example by UBC’s Carter Xin for an idea of station location).

There is absolutely no reason bike share shouldn’t succeed in Vancouver, except for helmets. The most recent city that has tried to launch a bike share system with a mandatory helmet law, is Seattle (which also happens to have similar weather and topology). The results have been disappointing and many people blame the city’s helmet law. When Seattle launched their bike share system in 2014, they were planning on using the same helmet vending technology that Vancouver was considering. It wasn’t ready at launch so they decided to just leave bins of helmets at each station. 2 years alter, that temporary solution is still in place and Seattle’s Pronto system is paying $85,000 a year to maintain its helmets (in a system with only 1000 bikes), and the vending machine solution is still nowhere in sight.

All that to say, I’m looking forward to Vancouver’s bike share system. I happen to live and work in the initial area, and even though I own my own bike I plan on getting a membership and adding bike share to my transportation options. I just wish someone in provincial politics would have the courage to admit what research has been showing for some time – that our mandatory bike helmet law isn’t saving lives and is a hindrance to increased rates of cycling.

 

 

Data Nerd – Mapping Cycling Mode Share in Vancouver

VancouverCyclingLevelsWithBikeRoutes
It’s raining outside. Must be Bike to Work Week. Thousands of riders are commuting by bike this week and logging their trips online, but just how popular is cycling in Vancouver?

I’ve heard some people claim that only 1.7% of people in Vancouver bike, while criticizing the investments in new bike lanes the city has made. That’s bullshit.

The number comes from Statistics Canada, but is often misunderstood and misused. The 2011 long form census (now optional and called the National Household Survey) has the following question:
How did this person usually get to work? (Their emphasis, not mine)

  • Car, truck or van – as a driver
  • Car, truck or van – as a passenger
  • Public transit
  • Walked to work
  • Bicycle
  • Other method

Across all of Metro Vancouver (including the burbs), 1.7% usually commute by bike. In the City of Vancouver it’s 4.3%. The neighbourhoods around downtown have cycling mode shares of 15%, but in southeast Vancouver there are many areas where no one bikes, or so the stats seem to indicate (full searchable results). It’s important to consider what the statistics represent.

The question asks what the usual means of commuting is. Think of all the recreational riders, weekend warriors, and fair-weather cyclists (cycling volumes often double in the summer vs the winter). It’s unlikely casual cyclists would identify the bicycle as their usual means of commuting to work. Unfortunately, the NHS doesn’t ask people what means of transportation they sometimes use, and there aren’t any other comprehensive data sets available. The NHS survey results might under-represent cycling but it does indicate a minimum level that cycling has reached (it’s safe to say at least 4.3% of Vancouverites commute by bike) and it offers a good opportunity to create maps and see trends over time.

Here’s are the Vancouver maps of commuting patterns in 2011 for cycling, walking, and public transit. The Vancouver Sun created similar maps a few years ago with 2006 census data. In 2006, the highest mode share for cycling was 12% in South Cambie. In 2011, Grandview-Woodland had 15% bike commuters, Strathcona had 14%, Mount Pleasant had 13%, and Kitsilano, South Cambie, and Riley Park had 12%. For the walking and public transit, the darkest areas represent mode shares of close to 50% (for walking in the West End and transit in Marpole and Renfrew-Collingwood).
VancouverCyclingLevels VancouverWalkingevels VancouverTransitLevels

If you want to play with interactive maps, you can open these files in Google Earth:
biking.kml
walking.kml
transit.kml
I generated these maps using KML files from techearth.net as a base. I would be easy to generate heat maps for all of Metro Vancouver, but I couldn’t find a kml file with census tract boundaries for more than the Vancouver proper.

4 Tips for Everyday Biking in Vancouver

Urban Cyclist

Guest post by Emily Beam

Biking can easily be your main form of transportation in Vancouver all year round. But it’s easy to get intimidated by all the spandex-clad road bikers and too cool for school bike couriers. This is how I bike around the city without compromising style or having to worry about end-of-trip facilities.

1. Get the right bike and set it up to carry all your stuff. I have a hybrid step-thru from trek with fenders and a back rack. I got a kick-ass, multi-purpose pannier by Detour that transforms into a should bag or backpack and a folding basket just in case I do a really big shopping trip. You’ll also need a helmet and lights (safety first).

2. To bike in this city year-round, you need solid rain gear. There is no way to bike in the rain and look stylish. So I opt for rain gear that goes on top of my clothes. This way, when I get to my final destination, I can shed the layer and look like I just stepped out of my house. Must haves: rain jacket with armpit vents, rain pants, shoe covers, and waterproof gloves (which are oddly hard to find).

3. Get to know your city. Vancouver does a lot for cyclists – maps can be found here. I’m lucky to live in a central neighbourhood and I never had to travel very far. Whenever possible, I take a separated bike lane or dedicated bike street. And don’t forget there are lots of hills. After years of honing my skills, I’ve mastered the advanced hill avoidance techniques. You’ll learn the hard way which routes are Vancouver’s hilliest.

4. Take your time and enjoy the ride!

Breaking the Law?

Seawall Scofflaws
Only in Vancouver would cycling slowly along a recreational bike path be illegal. It’s ridiculous. I run faster than most seawall cyclists, and yet they’re required by law to wear safety gear. The City of Vancouver has its own by-law (60D) that extends the provincial helmet law (part of the Motor Vehicle Act) to the city’s car-free paths and parks.

It’s possible that skateboarders and rollerbladers have it worse than cyclists. They can’t legally use the city’s side streets unless bubble-wrapped.

A person must not ride or coast on non-motorized skates, skateboard, or push-scooter on any minor street unless (a) that person wears a helmet, wrist guards, elbow pads, knee pads, and front and rear reflective equipment, and, in the case of skates or a skateboard, wrist guards; and (b) the skates, skateboard, or push-scooter has a braking mechanism.

Wrist guards are so important they were mentioned twice!

I realize these by-laws are rarely enforced, but if the city wants to show it’s serious about active transportation then it should scrap them. I think most people can decide for themselves if the risks of rollerblading without wrist guards is acceptible.

In related news, Vancouver’s bike share system has been delayed, yet again – now estimated to launch in 2015 (after being proposed in 2008 and approved by council in 2012). Dealing with the mandatory helmet law continues to be a stumbling block. Apparently they’ve worked out a vending machine solution. Seattle is set to launch its bike share program this fall with the same helmet vending machines, so we’ll see if they actually work or cause a logistical nightmare.

5000+ Bikes

5000+ bikes
The bike counter at Science World is now routinely passing 5000 cyclists each day. This was taken before 10 pm and it was already at 5362. A lot of cyclists cut through the parking lot and miss the counter so the number of cyclists in the area is actually a lot higher.

I wish there were counters like this at other high traffic areas in Vancouver – the Burrard Bridge and along Dunsmuir would be perfect spots. I’d also love to get my hands on the historical data feed for this counter.

Adanac Bikeway Improvements

Adanac Bikeway Improvements Snapshot
The City of Vancouver is looking to upgrade one of its busiest bike routes, Adanac/Union. Although the project hasn’t garnered the same media attention as the proposed greenway along Cornwall, this is a very exciting project for cyclists. I use the route everyday on my commute to work, and I think the changes will go a long way to making it safer.

According to the City’s numbers, the route is used for 4000 bike trips and 5000 car trips per day. The city is proposing a number of improvements to reduce traffic and physically separate bikes.

The biggest changes involve restricting car traffic along Union between Quebec and Main, creating separated bike lanes for large stretches, and improving bike signals at the traffic lights. My usual bike route takes me along Union between Quebec and Main, so I’m excited that cars will largely be removed from that stretch. West of Quebec, a two-way, separated bike lane will connect with the Carall Street Greenway. East of Main, parking will be used to shield bikes from traffic.

More information is available on the City’s website and there’s a quick survey you can fill out.