A new community bike share program officially launches in Waterloo Region today.

Run by The Working Centre in downtown Kitchener, the Community Access Bikeshare Program currently has three stations, eleven bikes and is accepting members.

Bikeshare has been two years and one pilot program in the making. Coordinator Adrian Underhill said the program provides another transportation option to local residents.

"I see it as one piece of how you might get around a city," said Underhill in an interview. "It’s not going to be the single solution for all your transportation needs, but we’re excited for how it will integrate with other forms of transportation. "

Underhill said the program was designed to be as easy as possible. Members only have to pay one fee when they join for the entire season. With their membership card, members can access a bicycle at any of the official Bikeshare stations. All bicycles must be returned to a Bikeshare station after use.

There are three stations that are currently open — at the Sun Life Financial building in Waterloo at the Caroline Street entrance, at the Charles Street Bus Terminal, and at the regional council building on Frederick Street.

Hours of accessibility vary according to the station.

'Comfortable for everyone'

Underhill said the program will open more stations, including one at Kitchener City Hall, and make more bikes available until the Bikeshare season ends in November.

"We have the capability of responding to demand. We’re building up bikes as we go," Underhill said.

"I don’t envision us limiting the amount of members that we take this season, but we will likely continue adding bikes into the system as we register members. We don’t want to have a lot of bikes out there, doing nothing. "

Underhill said the program’s Kona bikes are appropriate for riders of all sizes and experience.

"They’re kind of like a cruiser frame, so they’re comfortable for everyone," said Underhill.

"They each have a back pedal brake, fenders and a basket. So it’s the kind of bike that’s really going to comfortable for someone who’s big, small, someone who’s comfortable riding a bike, someone who’s not."

Underhill adds that there are many advantages to joining the Bikeshare program instead of owning a bike. He said members save on storage space and don’t have to worry about bicycle maintenance.

This year, membership will cost $30 from now until mid-November. Next year’s membership will be priced higher, since Bikeshare will open earlier, in mid-April.

Here’s how the Bikeshare program works:

1.       Those 16 years of age and over can sign up on The Working Centre website, or in person at 58 Queen St. S. in Kitchener.

2.       Receive a membership card.

3.       Members go to a designated Bikeshare station, where an electronic key-box can be found inside the building.

4.       Swipe the electronic key-box and enter a PIN number to open.

5.       Take one key from the box.

6.       The key will have a number on it, corresponding to a bike.

7.       Unlock the bike, take the bike lock with you and away you go.

8.       Return bike, lock and key to any station after use.