New rules for bikeshare

The City of Kelowna is proposing a series of new rules for operators who wish to provide bikesharing in the city.

The new permit program, which will be presented to city council Monday, comes on the heels of a scathing letter from DropBike earlier this week which calls the regulatory framework proposed by the city misguided.

DropBike ran what it, and the city agree, was a successful bikeshare pilot last summer as more than 35,000 trips were taken in just six months.

Now, after surveying the "changing landscape" of the industry, the city is moving away from the trial period model to what it is calling a bikeshare "permit program."

Active transportation co-ordinator Matt Worona compares the permit program to how the city deals with developers who wish to close a sidewalk or travel lane, in that there are certain rules that must be followed, and expectations are spelled out.

"Permit means we don't have to go and negotiate this long contract, instead, we are essentially saying here are the rules, here's what we want you to do, and if you'd like to, you can apply for the permit," said Worona.

"There's rules in terms of where we expect bikes to be left at the end of their trip. There's rules in terms of what data we'd like to see as a city, what data we think the public should receive to be integrated into mobility apps like Google Maps and Transit App."

He said there are also elements around trying to get service during the winter months, and also around customer privacy and payment methods.

Worona says the city will also work to get both electric bikes and electric scooters legalized on city pathways and streets.

At the present time, e-bikes are not permitted on the park pathway system, while e-scooters are restricted from BC roadways.

He says the city will post signs along "key park corridors" to allow the operation of e-bikes and e-scooters.

Worona adds the city has had conversations with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure about obtaining an exemption through the Motor Vehicle Act.

If the new program is approved by council, the city will begin accepting permit applications from companies wishing to provide a bikeshare service.

Worona says the city has had discussions with a number of companies, including Uber and Lyft which provide bikeshare services.

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