Bikeshare a go in Kelowna

If all goes according to plan, come April 1st, Kelowna will be the latest city to test drive a bikeshare program.

The proposed 18-month pilot program was given an enthusiastic thumbs up by city council Monday.

All that's left to get the program up and running is a formal agreement between the city and Dropbike Inc., the company the city plans to use for the pilot.

Bike sharing allows people to rent a bike from one location and return it to one of many, pre-determined spots within the city.

Active transportation manager Matt Worona says the bikeshare program will be funded entirely by Dropbike.

Once the agreement is in place, Worona says Dropbike will plan coverage areas, haven locations where trips can be ended at a discount, and areas they plan to expand to over the first few months of the pilot.

"Dropbike will submit proposed haven locations and coverage areas to staff for approval. Rejected locations will have alternatives suggested by staff," says Worona.

He says Dropbike will begin with 500 bikes for rent across the city with more to be added as time goes on.

"This is really exciting," said Coun. Charlie Hodge. "The bikes look great."

The company will provide everything for the program, except helmets, which concerned Hodge from a city liability aspect.

"I know the city is recommending the use of a helmet, but our bylaws actually state it's illegal not to use a helmet," stated Hodge.

Worona says some cities do have shared helmets, but indicated a few problems with that.

He says if a helmet has had an impact, it will provide less protection. meaning a provided helmet could be unsafe. He says hygiene is another issue with shared helmets.

Worona says the city is recommending people bring their own helmet, but adds the city would not be liable if a person chose not to.

The pilot program will run until the fall of next year, when a report on its success will be brought before council.

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