Public Works Committee approves Bike Share recommendations

By: Jamie Stuckless

On Monday, Nov. 16, Hamilton’s Public Works Committee received a report from staff outlining a path forward for Hamilton’s bike share system. Members of the Cycle Hamilton team tuned into the virtual meeting so that we could provide you with a brief update.

We don’t want to keep you in suspense, so we’ll highlight right up front that all recommendations were unanimously approved by the committee. 

The first recommendation was about the operations contract between the City and non-profit bike share operator Hamilton Bike Share Inc. (HBSI). An interim contract was signed earlier this year, after Uber pulled out of their bike share contract, and it was set to expire fairly soon on March 1, 2021. Staff recommended that the current operations contract with HBSI be extended for a period up to December 31, 2022. 

This extension secures the short-term operations of Hamilton’s bike share system and gives the City additional time to consider how it will incorporate other shared micro-mobility options, like e-scooters, into Hamilton’s transportation network. HBSI was supportive of this contract extension, as outlined in a letter they submitted to the Committee alongside the staff report.

The second recommendation was that the City establish a framework under which private operators could introduce new shared micro-mobility technologies in Hamilton (ex. e-scooters). This system would run in addition to the “base bike share” operated by HBSI and would be fee-based for private operators. It is the hope that these fees could be used to offset some of the costs of running the base bike share system, however, staff were careful to note that this funding would merely offset some of the costs of bike share, and that user fees, sponsorships, etc. will still be required.

It is also important to note that Hamilton has not yet passed a by-law to allow the operation of e-scooters in the City, as required under Ontario’s new framework for kick-style e-scooters. A report on e-scooters is expected to go to committee on December 7.

Additional points of interest:

  • As the operator of bike share, HBSI is responsible for bike balancing, bike maintenance, hub maintenance and customer service. All this is done at no-cost to the City and is funded by user fees, sponsorships and grants;
  • The bike share bikes are owned by the City and the City is responsible for funding any expansions or major system investments. City staff have secured $460,000 for bike share enhancements from the province as well as $500,000 in capital through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program for the expansion of bike share;
  • HBSI has $706,700 in funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to run the Everyone Rides Initiative (ERI). This funding supports hundreds of ERI riders and is dependent on there being an operational bike share system in Hamilton;
  • The report contains an expansion analysis and identifies Wards 4 to 8 and Ward 14 as having the highest potential demand for micro-mobility, but staff noted that any expansions would be up to private operators to make;
  • Recommendations were based on a review of micro-mobility practices in a number of municipalities across North America including Toronto, Kelowna, Philadelphia and Arlington;
  • The report recommends that staff evaluate the results of this phased approach and report back to Council no later than Q2 2022.

You can read the full report online here (p. 56).

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