U-bicycles have become a staple of Victoria’s transportation scene since the company launched in Oct. 2017, but soon they’ll be switching gears. The company says they’re changing from their current dockless bike share system to virtual drop zone locations in Victoria. “We think it’s going to create a really great hybrid system,” explained operation manager Dimitri Giannoulis of U-bicycle Canada. Up until now, users could leave their bikes anywhere as long as the wheel was locked. However, the company was criticized for allowing users to leave bikes in places they shouldn’t like on pedestrian walkways and in park entrances. Giannoulis says the virtual drop zone program was a part of the agreement with the city since its inception. “There are parking concerns when it’s just totally dockless,” Giannoulis said. “We’re really excited that this will help keep bikes out of places like parks, off of malls and private property.” The new map, located on the U-bicycle app, will show riders where they are able to pick up a bike and how many are available at each location. Once riders pick-up their bikes, they will continue to be charged until it is returned to one of 120 drop zones across the city. There’s also a temporary bike parking mode for users. Giannoulis says the bikes are designed to automatically detect when it is within 10 meters of the drop zone. “It will help make the system more reliable we hope,” Giannoulis explained. While it may not be as convenient as leaving the bike outside your front door, it’s a compromise that works in everyone’s favour. “With as many stations as we have, there will always be a station nearby in the places that bike ridership supports it,” said Giannoulis. The new system rolls out across Victoria on Nov. 1.