British Columbia

Victoria, B.C. to introduce dock-free bike sharing service

Don't be surprised if you start seeing a multitude of lime green bicycles in Victoria, B.C.

Mayor says bike roll out the result of a strong relationship with China-based company

Victoria, B.C. will soon introduce a dock-free bike share service. (U-bicycle)

A China-based bike share company is set to distribute 150 lime green rental bikes throughout Victoria, B.C.

Starting late September, the GPS enabled, self-locking bikes will be available to riders. The company, U-bicycle, says Victoria is the first North American market where it is distributing the bikes.

Victoria mayor Lisa Helps said of the many cities considered, including Austin, Texas and Vancouver, Victoria was chosen due to the strong relationship she and her staff developed with U-bicycle during a trip to China last year.

Unlike Vancouver bike-sharing company Mobi and similar services, U-bicycles aren't paired with docking stations.

Instead they work on a stationless bike share system, where, by using a mobile app, users can pick up the bike from any legal parking place and ride it to their destination.

"You ride to wherever you're going and you just lock it up anywhere legal and you go from there," said Helps.

The key to the bike is a barcode code stamped on the locking mechanism fastened to the rear tire. Using the mobile app, would-be riders locate a bike near them, and then scan the barcode to release the mechanism.

A mobile phone can be used to release the bike's locking mechanism. (U-bicycle)

"We could not be more thrilled to launch in Victoria as our first North American location," said U-bicycle North American CEO Grace Min in statement. 

"This is a big step for U-bicycle as we get ready to disrupt the bike sharing market across Canada and the United States."

During the initial trial period, U-bicycle will ascertain where most people ride the bikes in Victoria and where they end up. Helps said it will then be incumbent upon the company to redistribute the bikes throughout the city.

"If all the bikes congregate in one place or if they all end up at UVic or wherever, the company then redistributes them back in Victoria," said Helps.

The mayor said managing the bikes and maintaining their upkeep is a potential area for job growth in the city.

U-bicycle says the service will cost riders $1 per 30 minutes and as ridership grows they will scale up Victoria's fleet of bikes from 150 to 300.

With files from All Points West