City of Windsor to have bike sharing pilot

Staff asked council to provide direction on whether or not to report back on a potential e-scooter pilot in the city.

Staff recommended council to adopt a model where the city partners with the private sector

City of Hamilton's bike share program is owned by the private sector. (Sunnie Huang/CBC)

Windsor city council voted Monday night to go ahead with a bike sharing pilot project after getting an update on a feasibility study for a permanent program.

It will first be established in central Windsor, covering 15 per cent of the city and includes roughly 65,000 residents — 30 per cent of Windsor's population.

The area recommended by staff is enclosed by Riverside Drive down to Tecumseh Road, then from Prince Road to Drouillard Road.

Staff also recommended the city pursue the project in partnership with private operators, to take away heavy financial burdens.

Private operators would take care of capital, operational, repair and maintenance costs.

Such an operation model is a concern to Ward 3 Coun. Rino Bortolin.

He pointed to other cities that use public models, like the City of Toronto. He worries about the city if the bike sharing company were to leave the city in the future

"Is there room in this area for more than one operator?" he asked the consultant on this project.

City staff are updating council on the bike sharing feasibility study at Monday's council meeting. (Arms Bumanlag/CBC)

In the feasibility study, staff recommends the city work with either one private operator, or use Calgary's system, where multiple private operators are allowed to operate in the city via permit.

Despite his concerns, Bortolin voted for the pilot because he "doesn't want to hold it back."

Staff recommended the city take on at least 450 bicycles, including e-bikes, in the first phase of the project. Each one is expected to cost about $1,100.

The city will use a hybrid dockless model, where the system is generally dockless except in high-activity areas and "geo-fenced drop-zones" to regulate pick up and drop off of the bikes.

Lori Newton, executive director of cycling advocacy group Bike Windsor Essex, was pleased with council's decision, but outlined a few concerns Wednesday on CBC Radio's Afternoon Drive.

"It's a really exciting opportunity for the City of Windsor — we've been advocating for a bike share for some time," she told host Chris dela Torre.

"[But] there are certain things that I think, there's no question, the City of Windsor has to invest in. One of those is infrastructure and the other is education," she explained, noting that the downtown core has no cycling infrastructure and there isn't a single separated bike lane in the city.

Newton also wants to make sure that the private operator affordable for lower income users.

"I think that that can happen at the policy table. I think that the city can sit down and determine what's important and how this operator needs to move forward to ensure that there's equity and there's access."

With files from Sanjay Maru


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