Locals lament last ride on SoBi bikes, hope fundraiser will revive the program
Hamiltonians reflect on what they'll miss about SoBi bikes on their final day in operation
The front of Hamilton City Hall resembled a cemetery for SoBi bikes on Sunday, the final day before the bike sharing program is shuttered.
Sunshine gleamed off the frame of dozens of the blue and white bicycles brought to city hall, while bike racks across the city were mostly barren.
Some went to city hall for one last ride, though they hope the program will find a way to survive.
"SoBi is about accessibility for other people ... SoBi is what lets people get out, access their city and get fresh air," Victoria Bick told CBC News.
"I'm royally pissed that this decision would impact people who really need access to bikes the most."
She thinks the bikes left in front of city hall should send a message to councillors.
"It's a statement from a small community ... it's a statement of how much people care that they came here to bring the bikes," Bick explained.
"It was literally the best thing in this city."
Hamilton city council narrowly voted not to temporarily fund the bike share program with $400,000 after Uber pulled out of the contract to operate it.
Now, the Hamilton Bike Share Inc. (HBSI), a not-for-profit organization that once ran the program, has told Uber it wants to take back the reins.
The organization launched a fundraiser to cover the $400,000 bill. The campaign has reached nearly $60,000 in three days.
"I hope people will donate to the GoFundMe so we can fundraise it ourselves," Bick said.
Christina Babcock said the program helped her get from place to place without walking for an hour. She was surprised to see how many bikes were in front of city hall.
"This many people had to get out today, find a bike and bring a bike and they're all here now."
Babcock added that she's even going to miss the feel of the bike and the way it glides down Hamilton streets.
"It's a safe bike because it has heft to it and most recognize it as a SoBi bike," she explained.
She took a picture of her bike before she left.
Ben Babcock, who was riding with her, has some optimism about the scene at city hall.
"Hopefully, it's just nesting season and not a cemetery."