E-bike sharing rolls on in North Van

Supporters call for ‘complete, interconnected network’ that’s safe to use

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By MATEO MUEGO

While the city of North Vancouver’s e-bike program is considered a success, supporters say it needs to continue moving forward to make the community more bike-friendly.

North Vancouver council voted unanimously last month to extend by another year the original two-year contract with Lime, a bike-sharing company based in California. The program marked 156,000 trips completed so far using the bikes, with a third of users saying they rode the bikes instead of driving their personal vehicle.

The City of North Vancouver was the first municipality in B.C. to implement an all-electric bike sharing program. The policy was approved in 2020, and the first of 435 bikes in the service appeared on the street on July 26, 2021. The District of North Vancouver followed shortly, joining the program to allow riders to bike across all of North Vancouver. Trips cost $1.15 to start with an additional 35 cents per minute until the ride ends.

City of North Vancouver Coun. Tony Valente called the program “a total success.”

“We haven’t traditionally had a lot of [transportation] options on the North Shore and we need options that also are like kind of lower barrier,” he said.

Valente said an early problem developed when cyclists left the Lime bikes in yards and on private property after use. The city responded by adding dedicated parking stations, but there are still not enough parking locations for the bikes, according to riders.

“We say we prioritize active transportation, but when you look at it, we build a lot of space for cars,” said Valente, who is the former chair for the HUB Cycling North Shore committee. He added that there needs to be more locations to park the bikes in the winter.

Valente said riders tell him they need safer infrastructure for both e-bike and e-scooter users.

“We need to really be providing that complete network,” said Valente. “Which we just don’t have right now.”

North Vancouver Coun. Jessica McIlroy agreed cyclists in the city need safer options.

“A large portion of city residents are interested in riding a bike or using another mobility device but don’t feel it is safe to do so,” McIlroy said.

McIlroy said the city needs to continue building out its safe mobility network. “Providing safe and comfortable space, in the manner of a complete, interconnected network will be important in increasing all active transportation use in the future,” she said.

She said the ability for people to have an easy option for shorter cycling trips around North Vancouver is one of the e-bike program’s biggest successes.

Jeff Crook, an avid cyclist from North Vancouver, said the Lime bikes provide a faster alternative to cars when city traffic is heavy.

“I can get there on a bike in less than 10 minutes,” Crook said.

He said it sometimes can take 35 or 40 minutes to drive just over one kilometre during busy traffic times throughout the week.

Crook is happy with the biking infrastructure the city has been developing the past several years, but agreed with Valente that separated bike paths are the most important need for North Shore cyclists.

“The big one for cyclists is dedicated bike lanes, where you’re physically removed from car traffic,” Crook said.

He said the city has been building “way more of that infrastructure.”

The city is still working towards completing its North Vancouver bicycle master plan from 2012.

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