Toronto

Bike Share getting a big new cash infusion

E-bikes may soon be coming to Bike Share Toronto stations around the city, as part of a major expansion planned for 2020.

System expected to grow by 35% in 2020

Coun. Brad Bradford, who sits on the board of the city agency that oversees Bike Share Toronto, says the service saw 'historic' ridership increases last year. (Mike Smee/CBC)

E-bikes may soon be coming to  Bike Share Toronto stations around the city, as part of a major expansion planned for 2020.

The Toronto Parking Authority (TPA), which oversees Bike Share Toronto,  plans to add $11.25 million worth of new equipment to the service this year. 

About 80 per cent of the money will come courtesy of the Ontario Municipal Commuter Cycling Program, with the remaining $2.25 million coming from the city.

The expansion comes as the city boasts record numbers of Bike Share rides.

"We saw historic ridership [in 2019], both in terms of daily totals and on aggregate over the entire season," said Coun. Brad Bradford, who represents Ward 19, Beaches-East York and sits on the TPA.

"The reality is people are looking for active transportation and Bike Share is a safe, reliable, convenient option."

A page from the Bike Share Toronto website lists prices for various rides. Coun. Brad Bradford says more people used the service in 2019 than ever before. (Bike Share Toronto)

Between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30, 2019, Bike Share Toronto registered 1.97 million rides, up 23 per cent over the same period in 2018, according to city staff.

Although the TPA has not yet decided exactly how to spend the $11.25 million this year, a tentative plan from staff calls for a major boost in the numbers of bikes, Bike Share Toronto stations, and docks for individual bikes.

The plan also calls for the addition of 300 e-bikes to the system this year.

Expanding out from core

"It's about expanding Bike Share to more people, making sure that if you've got a little bit of a longer trip, you're going to be able to have the legs, the energy to get there with the system and electronic motor," Bradford said.

"It just makes Bike Share more accessible for younger people, for older people, and makes the ride a little bit easier for folks."

In 2019, Bike Share added 1,250 bikes and 105 new stations, many of them concentrated near transit and train stations in the downtown core.

The 2020 expansion will focus on adding services farther afield, Bradford said.

"Think of schools and universities, think of employment centres, think of transit — linking it to places where people want to go," Bradford said.

"You saw significant expansion into the east and west end of the city last year. You're going to see more of that in 2020, as well as expanding north."

35% expansion

As well as e-bikes, TPA staff are suggesting spending the money on 1,700 more bikes, about 150 new docking stations and upping the number of individual docks from 8,550 to 12,000.

The new equipment represents a 35 per cent increase in the number of Bike Share stations, according to staff.

As well, at a meeting Tuesday afternoon, TPA staff will look into finalizing a contract with Shift Transit Inc., the company chosen to run the day-to-day operations of Bike Share Toronto.

$42M contract

That five-year contract is worth more than $42 million. But that figure could drop if the TPA boards decides not to go ahead with the expansion plan.

A decision on exactly how to spend the $11.25 million 2020 capital budget is expected within the next few months.

Bradford said he expects the new Bike Share Toronto infrastructure will start showing up on the streets this spring.

About the Author

Michael Smee

Reporter, CBC Toronto

Michael Smee has worked in print, radio, TV and online journalism for many years. You can reach him at michael.smee@cbc.ca

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