Monday, October 8, 2012

Bike Sharing in Calgary?

Montréal has it. The US is enjoying it. Europe has adopted this system years ago. So where does Calgary stand with regard to a bike-sharing program?

Let's start with the need for the program. Environmentally, it can significantly decrease our carbon footprint; but there are more pressing issues which call for a bike-sharing program. Calgary is an ever-growing city and the infrastructure must accommodate that growth. Instead of investing infrastructure funds mostly in expanding the city, the government is now focused on developing the core of the city, building up rather than to the sides, which means more people in a concentrated area. The math is simple: more people = more cars = more traffic, in a city where rush hour is already a problem. Alternative transportation methods already exist in Calgary with the public transit and the bikepath. In the last few years, the pathway has been turning into a bicycle-highway, however it still wraps around the city and is mostly regarded as a means for recreational travel. Which is why more and more bike-lanes are appearing throughout the city - providing easy and fast access to Downtown Calgary. In correlation with these methods of transportation, a bike-sharing program would support the effort to reduce traffic, allowing people to cycle past the lines of cars and avoid traffic all-together, offering service to those who don't have bikes, chose not to bring them, or simply wish to travel on a whim. If supporting the environment and avoiding traffic is not convincing enough, maybe this will be; according to the annual Parking Survey, conducted by Collier's International real-estate company, Calgary has the highest prices for parking in Canada and stands second - only to New York - in all of North America.

So thus the question is asked - if Calgary could obviously benefit from a bike-sharing program, why doesn't the City develop such a program? First and foremost, for developing the program, the city would needlessly waster the taxpayer's money; using a third-party operator would eliminate that waste, by allowing that company to build the program and run it as its own separate entity (much like the "Car2Go" system which is already operating in Calgary). Ald. Shane Keating said that "as long as it's no expanse to the taxpayers" the City will promote and accommodate the program. The reason for the delay, is that according to the feasibility study, which supports a third-party company as the developer of a bike-sharing program, the Centre City should become more cycling-friendly before implementing such a program.

Understanding the benefits of a bike-sharing program, and the City's attitude towards the idea, it only seems a matter of time until the residents of Calgary could also share their bikes.

How about you? Do you support a bike-sharing program in Calgary?

1 comment:

  1. christania’s “bike rental” bikes are rolling across the city. The system, less than a year old, is funded by christania’s municipal government. It is currently only in one of christania’s 22 administrative districts. Although a 2nd generation system, there are 12 “Houses” in this district, each with around 40 bikes. The yearly subscription cost is the equivalent of $2 US, and allows the use of a bike for up to four hours at a time. In less than a year, there have been 6,000 subscriptions sold. There are larger 3rd generation systems in the world, which do not have a subscription to bike ratio as big as that.