WATCH: Nine months after being launched in Victoria, U-Bicycle has set a new record for ridership. But not everyone is pleased.
Ander Gat, who works at Cycle B.C. Rentals, says dockless bikes are putting a dent in the company’s bottom line. He wants the city to implement more regulations, such as geofencing or higher prices for longer trips.
“I’m not afraid of competition whatsoever, I’m just a little bit concerned about unfair advantage,” Gat said.
Gat says U-Bicycle’s lower fees are putting pressure on them.
Last October, U-Bicycle launched in Victoria. The company rents out bikes that don’t need to be returned to a docking station.
Proponents say they’re a convenient option for getting around the city.
But some critics say the bikes are being left in inappropriate locations.
Raviv Litman, U-Bicycle North America’s operations manager, says the company sends out emails to users who park their bikes poorly, in addition to picking up bikes themselves. He also says most of their customers are locals and that U-Bicycle does not intend to compete with existing bicycle rental stores.
“We have some overlap, but in the long term, we’re going to be different types of businesses,” Litman said.
“And I also think that this is an initial period where we want to be very customer friendly. We want to help people use these bikes as easily as possible and having a low price is part of that.”
The mayor says dockless bicycles are here to stay, but that the city is looking for ways to improve operations.
“It’s a disruptive technology,” Lisa Helps said. “It’s new. So there are going to be kinks, there are going to be hurdles, and our job as the city is to make sure there are convenient, multimodal options for everyone.”
U-Bicycle now has more than 400 bicycles in and around Victoria. This month, the company set a new record of 10,000 trips. It is also looking to expand operations to the University of Victoria.