Bright green U-bikes have been rolling into Oak Bay.
Local resident Richard Kutcher is worried the current program is gathering too much speed. He’s concerned that Oak Bay’s status as a destination within the CRD, combined with it’s demographics, won’t bode well for bike sharing in its current form.
“People will bring them here and not take them away,” he said. “It’s techno litter.”
Since November, Kutcher has been noticing riders using the bikes to cycle into Oak Bay, then use other modes of transportation to leave the municipality. To hammer this point to council, he’s piled several left-behind bikes at Municipal Hall. Few—if any—of the bikes have since been moved, evidenced by the growing amount of leaves and dust on them.
“Everyone who lives here has a car, or they have parents that drive. The rest probably aren’t tech-savvy,” he said.
U-Bicycle recently moved from a dock-less system to a virtual parking zone. Users will be charged until bikes are moved to within a 10-metre radius of certain pre-designated locations. Even if the parking zone is a bike-rack, users are not obligated to use them. This, Kutcher said, could turn into a liability for the city if someone was to trip over one.
|Screenshot showing U-bikes left within the allowed radius of a parking zone, Dec. 5 2018. (Jesse Laufer / News staff)|
Council adjusted bylaws that created a path for bike sharing to enter the city during a Nov. 13 meeting. A report from Daniel Horan, Director of Engineering Services, recommended the move. The report did note that public concerns have been raised about overcrowding on sidewalks, smartphone connectivity, and potential requirements to add more bike racks.
Part of the report promised that “if Council adopts the changes to the Streets and Traffic Bylaw, staff will complete an agreement that defines a one-year pilot project with U-Bicycle.”
Kutcher emailed his concerns to Horan, and was told Dec. 3 that the trial has not yet begun. Kutcher says that he isn’t opposed to bike-sharing, but the current model isn’t right for Oak Bay. He would have more support for a system similar to Mobi in Vancouver, where bikes are locked in permanent physical stations, located in key areas.