Bikeshare permit program

Bikesharing allows Kelowna residents to rent bicycles and other small vehicles on a short-term basis. Bicycles available for rent can be found through the mobile app of the service provider you choose. Bikesharing is operated with a "dockless" or "stationless" set-up, which means you don’t need to end your trip at a specific location.

We have issued permits to five bikeshare operators through our bikeshare permit program, and are allowing these operators to explore new ways of providing flexible, affordable and accessible mobility options to residents and visitors. These new options could help us achieve our mobility goals as listed in the Kelowna On The Move Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan, as well as the forthcoming Transportation Master Plan.

We regulate bikeshare so it delivers on the following objectives:     

  • Gives more residents the opportunity not to drive by building an interconnected network of transportation options
  • Ensures public benefit by removing the pressure to move more cars on our road network
  • Encourages people to walk, cycle and take public transit more often
  • Lowers the cost of living by giving residents the opportunity to build a robust set of options around how they move
  • Builds on a culture of active living in the community
Application process

Bikeshare Permit Application Process For Operators

The bikeshare permit program intends to regulate free‐floating, shared fleets of small vehicles operating within Kelowna. Currently, the permit defines pedal bicycles, electric bicycles and electric scooters as bikeshare vehicle types. We allow permit holders to operate within the city street network, parks and pathways. Operators must follow all applicable provincial and federal regulations.

Applications will be accepted on an ongoing basis. The term for a bikeshare permit is one year. All applications should be sent to tranmgmt@kelowna.ca.

Current bikeshare operators in Kelowna

We have issued bikeshare permits to SPIN, OGO, ZIP, Bunny and ROLL.

Company: ZIP

Fleet Size: 100 electric scooters

Website: ridezip.co

Phone number: 1(844)947-9471

Email: contact@ridezip.co

Bikeshare Availability Data Feed: ZIP Public General Bikeshare Feed Specification (GBFS)

Company: Bunny

Fleet Size: 100 electric scooters

Website: bunnyscooters.com

Phone: 1(833)662-8669

Email: support@bunnyscooters.com

Bikeshare Availability Data Feed: Bunny Public General Bikeshare Feed Specification (GBFS)

Company: ROLL

Fleet Size: 50 electric bikes and 100 electric scooters

Website: rollscooters.com

Phone: 1(833)954-0027

Email: support@rollscooters.com

Bikeshare Availability Data Feed: Roll Public General Bikeshare Feed Specification (GBFS)

 

Company: SPIN

Fleet Size: 400 electric scooters

Website: spin.app

Company: Loop

Fleet Size: 25 electric mopeds

Website:  loopscooters.com

 

History of bikesharing in Kelowna

Recommendations with regard to bikeshare or similar programs are included in two different council adopted plans.

The Kelowna On The Move: Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan recommends staff “research and develop a strategy to demonstrate which programs would be most effective in achieving behavioural change to grow the share of residents selecting active modes of transportation.”

The Community Climate Action Plan recommends staff ”expand the pilot community bike share program”.

In February 2018, Council entered into a license agreement with Dropbike for the purpose of operating a bikeshare pilot in Kelowna. The pilot began in the spring of 2018 and was operated solely by Dropbike.

In May 2019, building on what we learned from the bikeshare pilot, Council adopted a bikeshare permit program, allowing bikeshare operators to deliver a variety of vehicle types including pedal bikes, electric bikes and electric scooters. This enables multiple operators to provide the service in Kelowna while ensuring disorder and clutter is kept to a minimum.

Frequently asked questions
How can I access bikeshare vehicles as a user?

Modern bikeshare systems uses smart phone technology (downloadable app) to allow you to find, unlock and pay for bikeshare. For full details about the system and the app, please visit the bikeshare providers' websites through the links in the “Current bikeshare operators” section.

What are the benefits of a bikeshare program?

We expect our bikeshare program will have numerous benefits:

Solve public transit’s last-mile problem

The first or last part of the trip between the bus stop and a user’s final destination is one of the main challenges that often pushes residents from regularly using transit. Bikeshare can help connect residents to transit services and make transit their first choice.

A five-minute walk is roughly 400 metres, but by cycling you can cover four times that distance in the same timeframe. Multimodal trips using bikeshare in other cities have been integrated into trip planning software (such as Transit App) to make trips more flexible and ultimately faster. In many cases, bikeshare might enable transit riders to eliminate a transfer or more seamlessly feed into transit.  

Help us make better evidence-based decision making

While multiple bikeshare models deliver different types of data, the bikeshare pilot gives us access to anonymous data about start and endpoints, as well as travel patterns for users. This detailed bicycle data will help us make better decisions in prioritizing infrastructure and understanding where people are biking.

Reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions

A bikeshare system will provide additional transportation options that will help reduce auto dependency for certain residents in our community. Roughly 20 per cent of all bikeshare trips in other cities would have been made by automobile. Bikeshare is supportive of Kelowna’s GHG reduction goals as described within the Community Climate Action Plan.

Support active transportation

The creation of additional cycling infrastructure and programs aligns with the Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan. A bikeshare system could potentially support Council’s objective that “by 2036, 25 per cent of all trips less than five kilometres in length are made by walking and cycling.”

Improve road safety

Cities with bikeshare found a decrease in injury rates (per kilometre ridden) with respect to both general and head injuries compared to numbers from cities without a bikeshare system. Bikeshare collision and injury rates are also lower than previously calculated rates for personal bikes.

Improve transportation choice and cost of living

Bikeshare programs are typically affordable and inexpensive to use. The availability of bikes for rent improves transportation choice for Kelowna residents and visitors.

Reduce car use and congestion

Using data from Capital Bikeshare in Washington, D.C., researchers found measurable reductions in automobile congestion following the introduction of bikeshare programs. This is a possibility with a bikeshare system in Kelowna, but would depend on various factors.

Support the tourism economy

Bikeshare systems are attractive for tourists and visitors to Kelowna who want to experience the city without the cost and inconvenience of driving and parking. A bikeshare program is a valuable amenity that would improve the experience of many visitors and enable tourists to visit businesses and attractions beyond a comfortable walk. Tourism Kelowna has expressed its support for a bikeshare system.

Who do I contact if a bikeshare vehicle is parked improperly or requires maintenance?

Permitted operators are responsible for parking issues, maintenance and the removal and relocation of vehicles. If your concern is related to the number of vehicles parked in one location, an improperly parked vehicle, or damage to a vehicle, please contact the company associated with the vehicles. Contact information can also be found on each vehicle.

Why isn't the City requiring shared helmets to be provided?

As staff evaluated the safety impact of bikeshare in other jurisdictions and engaged stakeholders, we considered how to design this service to comply with the mandatory helmet law and keep riders safe. Bikeshare users are expected to follow bylaws and the rules of the road to keep themselves and other safe.

Although we initially considered shared helmets for the pilot program, we didn’t pursue this option for two reasons: safety and hygiene.

Safety

The protective ability of helmets is greatly reduced after a primary impact. It would be very difficult to continuously test and guarantee the safety benefits of a helmet fleet that could climb to more than 1,000 over the course of the pilot. From a safety perspective, there would be no guarantee that a previous rider hadn't damaged the helmet that would accompany your bike. If a rider was injured while wearing a helmet that had experienced prior impact, there’s a potential for this risk to be borne by the bikeshare provider and the City because of the lack of safety precautions and system-wide helmet tests.

Hygiene

While the vast majority of bikeshare systems don’t provide helmets with bicycles, there are jurisdictions where bike helmets are share. These systems exist mainly where mandatory, all-ages bike helmet laws are in effect and where the municipality pays the upfront capital cost for the system. The most notable examples of this are Pronto in Seattle (now defunct), Mobi in Vancouver and Melbourne Bikeshare in Australia. Staff have not found a measurable difference in terms of helmet use per rider when comparing systems that offer helmets versus jurisdictions that don’t offer helmets and expect riders to bring a helmet with them.

Bikeshare has a historically lower rate of helmet use than personal bikes. We expect the mandatory helmet law in B.C. to bump up helmet use in Kelowna’s bikeshare system compared to jurisdictions without an all-ages helmet law. Outside of shared helmets, there are certain things staff can do to increase the number of bikeshare riders wearing helmets. One idea is to ensure information about the helmet law and discounts on helmets are available through the provider’s app or other point-of-sale application by partnering with local bike helmet retailers who want to participate.

Will these bikeshare vehicles get stolen?

Modern bikeshare systems equip all their vehicles with LTE and GPS technology. This enables bikeshare operators to know where every bike or scooter is and report stolen vehicles to the authorities with exact GPS coordinates. Additionally, the vehicles often have non-standard parts, limiting their salvage value.

How much will it cost to run the permit program?

We are responsible for the costs of overseeing the bikeshare permit holders. Bikeshare providers are responsible for their operating costs. 

Why do we need bikeshare if most people in Kelowna already own bikes?

Some people assume bikesharing simply provides a digital way to rent a small vehicle, but – as has been proven in other cities – it adds to a city’s transportation system by providing a faster transportation option than walking for short-term trips. Bikesharing is a great service to provide in Kelowna since over 60 per cent of all trips in the city are under five kilometres. Bikesharing will also benefit tourists by helping them reach destinations beyond walking distance. 

Can I get bikeshare service on my private property?

If you’re a private property owner or manager, please contact individual bikeshare operators to discuss setting up bikeshare service on your private property.

I have concerns about the bikeshare permit program, who do I contact?

For concerns about the Bikeshare Permit Program, please contact our Integrated Transportation Department.

Where can e-scooters be legally operated in Kelowna?

E-scooters can be operated in select off-street corridors within Kelowna. View the Permitted Electric Scooter Network map to see all locations.