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Bike share plan coming to Hamilton

5 December 2013 No Comment

Hamilton’s streets will see an influx of bicycles this spring as the city moves forward with its bike share plan.

“One thing a bike share does is increase the ease and convenience of, not only cycling in the city, but also taking transit,” said Peter Topalovic, project manager for Hamilton’s Public Works department. The bike share is a key part of the city’s overall transit strategy.

Initial plans for the bike share’s core service area are wards 1, 2, 3, and 4, and secondary service areas include Mohawk College, the mountain brow, and Dundas. But the city must wait for council approval in order to finalize the location of bike share stations.

The city will spend $1.6-million on a bike share program and Social Bicycle will supply the bikes. The American company beat out a number of proposals, including one from BIXI, which operates bike shares in Toronto and Montreal. Topalovic says the major costs involved in running a bike share doesn’t come from cycle maintenance.

“The major cost in any bike share operation is the cost to balance the system,” said Topalovic. “If we have two stations at Mohawk, and everyone wants to ride down the mountain to downtown, then you’ll have no bikes at Mohawk. The actual cost to repair the bikes is actually very cheap in comparison to the cost to balance the bikes.”

Trevor Jenkins, Transportation Programs and Services at Mohawk’s Sustainability Office, says the bike share program is all about making options available for students with regards to transportation.

“Around 40 to 60 per cent of all motorized commuters use the bus to get [to Mohawk],” said Jenkins. “It’s really about helping to build the infrastructure to give people options about how to get around.”

While the city is moving very well in terms of its overall transportation plan, Alan Griffiths, manager at Mohawk’s Sustainability Office, says the success of the bike share relies on a change in the city’s cycling culture, and riders could use more education.

“We’re prepared to offer a cycling education course to staff and students at Mohawk that want to learn a few more tips about safe cycling in the city of Hamilton,” said Griffiths. “The city can only do so much for the cyclists, the cyclists need to take some ownership as well.”

Topalovic says Hamilton is doing well in terms of developing its cycling culture.

“In comparison to other North American cities, we’re doing very well,” he said.

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