Bike sharing comes to Kelowna with 1,200 bikes this spring

Kelowna, B.C., will become the latest Canadian city to adopt a bike-sharing program, with up to 1,200 bikes coming to the city beginning in April.

Okanagan city partners with Toronto-based company Dropbike as part of 18-month pilot project

Kelowna City Council heard Monday that the program is intended not only for tourists, but also as a commuting option for residents. (Dropbike)

Kelowna, B.C., will soon be the next Canadian city with a bike-sharing program, as local council approves a pilot project that will bring up to 1,200 bikes to the Okanagan city starting this spring.

On Monday, city council approved a plan to partner with Toronto-based Dropbike to launch an 18-month test run beginning in April.

"Essentially, there would be bikes around town at different hub or haven locations," said Matt Worona, the active transportation coordinator for the City of Kelowna.

"You would be able to use your smart phone, scan a code, your bike would unlock and you would be able to ride it to your final destination."

Riders' credit cards will be charged for using the service, he said.

No cost to the city

Bike-sharing programs are already underway in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Victoria. Dropbike also launched its service in Kingston, Ontario, a medium-sized city with a population comparable to Kelowna.

Worona said the bicycles are designed to be virtually maintenance-free. (Dropbike)

"We're really excited about the success they saw in that [Kingston] pilot," said Worona.

"I think there are quite a few people that would see a value in it."

He said the program is not specifically intended for tourists or people without bikes, but for everyday citizens as an additional commuting option.

Rather than test the pilot using a small number of bikes, Worona said the city will get up to 1,200 bikes by the summer in order to fully assess the program's viability.

Dropbike — not the city — will assume any costs associated with the program. 

Bike helmets won't be provided as part of the program, said Warona, but users are encouraged to bring their own as provincial law requires cyclists to wear them.

With files from CBC's Daybreak South and Chris Walker.

About the Author

Jaimie Kehler

Jaimie Kehler is a web writer, producer and broadcaster based in Kelowna, B.C. She has also worked for CBC News in Toronto and Ottawa. To contact her with a story, email jaimie.kehler@cbc.ca.