WATCH: A bike-sharing service that allows riders to park anywhere has arrived in Victoria. But will it hurt rental shops? Isabelle Raghem reports.
Victoria residents will soon see a lot more lime green rolling around the capital city.
Starting Oct. 1, Victoria will welcome 200 U-Bicycles. It will be the company’s first North American market. Why choose Victoria?
“Victoria is the capital city of cycling in Canada and also it is the greenest city in Canada,” explains U-Bicycle North America CEO Grace Min.
The key to unlocking the bikes? A smartphone app available on Apple?s App Store and Google Play.
Riders also use the app to locate the GPS enabled bikes on a map and make payments through their device.
While Seattle recently saw their bike share program fail, Victoria’s mayor is hopeful the private company’s concept will make a difference.
“People like cheap and convenient,” said Mayor Lisa Helps, “these bikes you can unlock and put when you’re finished on any city bike rack, just as if it were your own bicycle and then the next customer will pick it up and take it where it needs to go.”
U-Bicycle launched nearly two years ago in China and has already seen more than 10 million riders use the service.
The arrival of a new bike rental business is raising concerns for rental shops.
“I think there will be a little bit of an impact,” said Pat McTaggart of Cycle BC Rentals.
He says he worries a bike sharing service in Victoria could take away some of their customers like it has at their Vancouver location.
“They’ve definitely noticed a little bit [of an impact] with their bicycle rentals, you know we do motorcycles and scooters here as well so that helps with our business but we’re hoping it doesn’t affect us too drastically.”
They’re hopeful customer service and on-site repairs will keep them competitive.
U-Bicycle will cost riders $1 per 30 minutes, with a $29 deposit for students and a $49 for those over 25.
After its full launch on October 1, U-Bicycle said will put another 150 bikes in the city in the future.