Vancouver invests $50,000 in study of proposed bike-share program

Vancouver invests $50,000 in study of proposed bike-share program

Vancouver plans to contribute $50,000 toward a Simon Fraser University study to determine how the city’s proposed BIXI bike-share program will change residents’ travel habits.

The study, which will also receive a $200,000 operating grant from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, will look at who uses the program and how it affects their health and physical activity, as well as how many people have switched to cycling from driving, walking or taking transit.

The study will also identify barriers to participation in the program across all socio-demographic groups, said Meghan Winters, assistant professor of SFU’s faculty of health sciences.

Two surveys — one now and one next year — will be conducted.

“We want to do a full-on evaluation of the health and transportation impacts,” Winter said. “We’re trying to collect baseline data so we can understand what people are doing now and see what the changes are.”

Winters said similar studies have been done elsewhere, but Vancouver is an important bike-share city to study because its climate is conducive to year-round cycling and cyclists here must wear helmets.

The city is in the midst of negotiating with Alta Bicycle Share of Portland, Ore., which will provide the BIXI bikes and helmets, to make sure it follows criteria such as ensuring helmets are easily accessible, are cleaned and disinfected after every use, and are replaced if they’re involved in a fall or crash.

Jerry Dobrovolny, Vancouver’s transportation manager, has previously acknowledged B.C.’s helmet law poses the “biggest risk” in getting the subsidized public bike rental system off the ground, and could potentially result in the program being shelved.

The program comes back to council in September for a formal vote before installation takes place over the winter.

The public bike-share program, set to cost $1.9 million per year, would see 1,500 bikes at 125 self-service stations throughout downtown and along the Broadway corridor.

The company will use special gear-driven hard-rubber tired bicycles built by BIXI Public Bicycles System Co. of Quebec.

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