Bike-share wants to roll into Tri-Cities

Chinese company U-bicycle in talks with Coquitlam

Bike-sharing app U-bicycle is considering bringing its service to the suburbs.

Raviv Litman, an operations manager with the company, which is based in China, said U-bicycle has been in discussions with the city of Coquitlam and intend to reach an agreement that would include Port Moody and Port Coquitlam.

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“We have initial positive feedback and we expect progress in the future, although no dates or commitments have been set,” he said in an email.

Unlike Vancouver bike-share program Mobi, which received $5 million from city coffers over five years, Litman said U-bicycle is not looking for government money to subsidize its operations. 

And because the bikes are self-locking and tracked using a combination of Bluetooth and GPS, making them easy to find on a map, docking stations are not necessary. Litman said the bikes can be left anywhere, provided they are clear of traffic.

“They can be parked in safe, public locations that do not block pedestrians, bikes or cars,” he said. “We will have local operations staff to respond to improperly parked bikes.”

The price is right for Dan Mooney, Coquitlam’s manager of transportation, who said any bike-share company operating in the city would have to do so without the use of taxpayer funds. 

He confirmed that staff have been in discussions with U-bicycle, however no commitments or agreements have been made. 

“At this time, it is not on our 2018 work plan and if we did proceed, we would be looking at all service providers and who would provide the best service for the needs of Coquitlam,” he said. 

If U-bicycle started operating in Metro Vancouver, it would not be the first British Columbia community to have the service.

The company distributed 150 of its lime-green bikes throughout Victoria last September and has since added 250 bicycles to its fleet. 

Riders are charged $1 for every 30 minutes they use the service and can pay with a Visa card through PayPal or Swipe. Accounts can be set up through the app, which can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and Android Google Play. 

The bikes have three-speeds with rear lights, a bell, a basket and fenders plus solid foam tires that Litman said do not flatten. Each bike is equipped with a helmet. 

Last week, U-bicycle opened its North American headquarters in Vancouver and stated the company intends to operate 780,000 bikes in more than 100 cities across the continent. 

“We have seen great success in our Victoria operations and we’d like to replicate the success in other cities,” said U-bicycle North America CEO Grace Min. “This is a big step and milestone for U-bicycle as we get ready to strengthen the bike-sharing market by introducing innovative technology to cities across Canada and the United States.”

gmckenna@tricitynews.com

@gmckennaTC

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