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Vancouver aims for unique solution to bikeshare + mandatory helmet conundrum

January 10th, 2012 · 127 Comments

The city that Vision Vancouver has tried to make as bike-friendly as possible has been trying to get a bike-share system here for two years (remember when there was talk of a trial during the Olympics, using Montreal’s Bixi’s on loan during the winter?) but still doesn’t have one.

This is going to be the year there’s a decision though. As I note in my Globe story today, Councillor Raymond Louie says there will be a decision, one year after the first request for expressions of interest went out, on what to do next. It’s not clear where next is issuing a request for proposals or simply deciding on one of the proponents.

I understand there was a meeting at the city with all of them Dec. 20 and the bidders feel as though the city has enough information from everyone to go ahead and choose someone for the contract without further ado.

And that will mean whoever wins will get to pioneer a solution for the messy problem of how to run a bikeshare program in a city (and province) with a mandatory bike-helmet law. Only two of the 480 cities that have bikeshare programs have a similar law: Melbourne and Brisbane. In the bike world, it’s well-known that their bikeshare programs are struggling, many believe as a result of the combination of the law and a failure to come up with solutions.

Locally, a consortium of non-profits and for-profit groups and companies has come up with a pitch under the name of Bikeshare BC. Their bike-and-helmet people, SandVault, have invented a helmet-rental and -sanitizing machine. Other companies apparently are coming up with their own Goldbergian solutions.

It will be fun to see what the ultimate solution is. And I’m sure we all look forward to the reasoned debates in this city about where the loading docks should be and how much sidewalk or road space they should be allocated.

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