The bike-share phenomenon is no longer welcome in Oak Bay.
U-Bicycle, you had your chance.
Count Coun. Hazel Braithwaite among those initially charmed and inspired by U-Bicycle’s potential. Now she’s disappointed enough to call U-Bicycle’s derelict bikes “urban garbage.”
“Something has gone wrong because I understand it has worked in other communities,” Braithwaite said. “So it’s kind of shocking it hasn’t worked in Oak Bay because we have strong numbers for cycling. Back then, we were hopeful that something like a bike share would really help and be used in the community.”
On Monday night, Oak Bay council will likely vote to de-prioritize its support for the bike-share program and the bylaw amendments that were drafted specifically to allow U-Bicycle in Oak Bay.
Essentially, it spells the end of the bike-share program in Oak Bay.
Braithwaite also said she won’t approve the amendments to Oak Bay’s Streets and Traffic Bylaw until she’s seen a bike-share model that works. That means the next bike-share, or one of the anticipated E-scooter companies, would have to start over again should they wish to serve Oak Bay.
“My personal view is it hasn’t worked out the way we hoped,” Braithwaite said on Friday. “It’s almost like it’s urban garbage because the bikes are left in disarray around the community.
The move comes after a year without any significant response from U-Bicycle.
U-Bicycle is owned by three grads from Simon Fraser University. They sold Oak Bay on their intentions with a 26-page presentation in 2018 and a commitment of 38 bikes in the Tweed City. It led with statistics on the added benefits cycling has on health and well-being, how it can spell relief on overcrowded public transit, and more.
The newest staff report from Oak Bay said they were unable to make progress with U-Bicycle regarding “potential infrastructure changes and fees.” Nor did U-Bicycle apply for a business license in Oak Bay, said spokesperson Hayley Goodgrove.
“… Staff observed that the bike-share operator had difficulty responding to requests for relocation, or removal of bicycles. As a result, staff de-prioritized this work in early 2019,” states the report.
Oak Bay News made multiple attempts to contact U-Bicycle.
U-Bicycle brought 200 bikes into Victoria in 2017 with a promise of 150 more. It expanded into Saanich, Esquimalt, Langford, Cowichan Bay and Oak Bay. In November 2018, U-bicycle switched to a “virtual parking system” in Greater Victoria. Its 135 “virtual parking zones” are used for the pick-up and drop off of bicycles. Users who drop the bikes away from the drop zones surrender a $7 fine compared to the nominal fee of $1 per half an hour of use.