Edmonton councillor wants city to take second crack at bike-sharing program

Ward 4 Coun. Aaron Paquette didn’t know what a bike share was until people asked him whether Edmonton was looking at one.

Aaron Paquette says the program doesn't have to cost the city any money

With Edmonton's newly minted bike lanes, Coun. Aaron Paquette says the city could be ready for a bike-sharing program. (CBC)

Aaron Paquette didn't know what a bike share was until people asked him whether Edmonton was looking at one.

On Tuesday, the Ward 4 councillor introduced a motion asking council to explore the options for adopting a bike-share system in the city. City council voted unanimously to explore bike-sharing options.

"The more I looked into it, the more I thought this would be fantastic," Paquette told CBC's Radio Active on Tuesday.

It would be Edmonton's second try at a bike-sharing program; the People's Pedal ran from 2005 to 2008 before it was shut down due to widespread theft of their bicycles.

But Paquette said with better technology and a new set of bike lanes, the city should take another look at a bike-share program.

"We're a little bit behind the curve, [but] we can learn from [other] cities and find out what we can," Paquette said.

Cost to city: $0?

The proposal is in its early stages. But Paquette said if council likes the idea, Edmonton will explore what other cities have done and what to avoid.

He said the bike-sharing system could work in high-density areas and in more residential areas too, depending on the popularity.

The best part, Paquette said, is that it might not cost the city anything.

"We can do it without any public dollars," he said.

Paquette said private companies could jump in and pay for the bike-sharing system, profiting off membership fees.

"Once you've got it going, it can be [expanded] anywhere," Paquette said. "Once you've got a zone, you've got a bike."

Coun. Aaron Paquette says the program could be adopted with no cost to the city. (CBC)

He said companies have reached out to the city already to express interest. And even though Edmonton is billed as primarily a winter city, he said, many of the bike-sharing companies are starting to look into fat bikes for all-season riding.

The councillor was surprised at how well-received the idea has been so far in conversations with his constituents and co-workers.

"People get it that if we've got this infrastructure and it's not being utilized, we should be utilizing it," he said. "It'd be kind of foolish to not make use of it."

Paquette said he expects to see support from motorists, too.

"It's a way to solve a lot of congestion on the road by getting people out of their cars and freeing it up for people who actually have to drive," he said. "A lot of drivers would be happy because there's one less car on the road."