Vancouver city council has given the go-ahead to a public bike share program, after a day of debate and voting at city hall.

The program is expected to launch in the downtown core and the area between Arbutus Street, 12th Avenue and Main Street by early 2014.

Some 1,500 seven-speed bikes and 125 solar-powered docking stations will eventually be available, along with specialized helmet vending machines in order to comply with B.C. laws.

The system will be privately-owned and operated by Alta Bike Share, Inc., although the city will spend $6 million to set up the program, then $500,000 per year to maintain it.

Riders will be able to buy daily, weekly, or annual memberships to the system, allowing unlimited trips of up to 30 minutes.

Trips longer than 30 minutes will incur additional fees.