Bikeshare Permit Program
We are permitting bikeshare operators, with the appropriate approvals, to explore new ways of providing flexible, affordable, and accessible mobility options to residents and visitors. These new options could help achieve the City ’s stated mobility goals in the Kelowna On The Move Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan as well as the forthcoming Transportation Master Plan.
This permit program intends to regulate free‐floating, shared fleets of small vehicles operating within the City of Kelowna. Currently, the permit defines pedal bicycles, electric bicycles and electric scooters as bikeshare vehicle types. We will allow permit holders to access the street network, parks and pathways through a permit to operate within City of Kelowna lands while adhering to 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 email@example.com.
Current Bikeshare Operators
We have issued bikeshare permits to SPIN, OGO, ZIP and Bunny.
Fleet Size: 400 electric scooters
Fleet Size: 120 electric scooters
Bikeshare Availability Data Feed: OGO Public General Bikeshare Feed Specification (GBFS)
Fleet Size: 100 electric scooters
Bikeshare Availability Data Feed: ZIP Public General Bikeshare Feed Specification (GBFS)
Fleet Size: 100 electric scooters
Bikeshare Availability Data Feed: Bunny Public General Bikeshare Feed Specification (GBFS)
Fleet Size: 50 electric bikes and 100 electric scooters
Bikesharing in Kelowna
A bikeshare program is a system of bicycles available for short-term rental that allows users to get a bicycle at one location and drop it off at another.
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.
We regulate bikeshare so it delivers on the following objectives:
• Delivers the opportunity for more residents 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
A bikeshare program is a system of bicycles or other small vehicles available for short term rental that allows users to get a bicycle at one location and drop it off at another. Kelowna’s bikeshare permit program allow for "dockless" or "stationless" operation which means the bikeshare system has no physical stations where users need to end their trip.
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' website through the links above.
Bicycles available for rent can be found through the service provider’s mobile app.
There are many benefits we expect from a bikeshare system in Kelowna. The following are a selection of some of the benefits we expect to see in Kelowna.
Solving 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 5-minute walk is roughly 400m, by bike you can cover 4 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.
Better evidence-based decision making
While multiple bikeshare models deliver different types of data, the bikeshare pilot would give us access to anonymized data about start and end points as well as travel patterns for users. This detailed bicycle data would help us make better decisions in prioritizing infrastructure and understanding where people are biking.
Reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
A bikeshare system will provide additional transportation options to Kelowna residents that will help reduce auto dependency for certain residents in our community. Roughly 20% 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.
Supporting 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% of all trips less than 5km in length are made by walking and cycling”.
Improving road safety
Cities with bikeshare found a decrease in injury rates (per kilometre ridden) with respect to both general injury and head injury compared to numbers from control cities without a bikeshare system. Bikeshare collision and injury rates are also lower than previously calculated rates for personal bikes.
Improving transportation choice and cost of living
Bikeshare programs are typically affordable and low cost to use. The availability of bikes for rent improves transportation choice for Kelowna residents and visitors.
Reduction in car use and congestion
Using data from Capital Bikeshare in Washington, DC 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.
Supporting 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 their support for a bikeshare system.
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.
Through staff’s evaluation of the safety impact of bikeshare in other jurisdictions and through stakeholder engagement the question of how we design this service to comply with the mandatory helmet law and the safety of riders has been considered. Bikeshare users are expected to follow bylaws, including rules of the road for their safety and the safety of others.
Although we initially considered shared helmets for the pilot program, we did not to pursue this option for two reasons, safety and hygiene.
Helmets are designed such that their effectiveness is greatly reduced after a primary impact. It would be extraordinarily burdensome to continuously test and guarantee the safety benefits behind a helmet fleet that could climb to more than 1000 helmets 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 is 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.
The vast majority of bikeshare systems don’t provide helmets with bicycles. Still there are jurisdictions, where bike helmets are shared on bikeshare. 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, Seattle’s, now defunct, Pronto service, 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 vs jurisdictions that do not 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 BC to bump up helmet use in Kelowna’s bikeshare system compared against jurisdictions without an all ages helmet law. Outside of shared helmets, there are certain things staff should do that could grow the proportion of riders wearing helmets while on the bikeshare fleet. One such 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.
Modern bikeshare systems equip all of 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.
The City's costs to provide oversight over the bikeshare permit holders will be borne by the City and the operations of individual bikeshare providers will be funded and operated entirely by each respective company.
Bikeshare can often be confused for a digital way to rent a small vehicle but it would be a mistake to view it as simply that. The way bikeshare adds to the transportation system in other cities is by making a walking trip faster and further. This has benefits for transit riders and short trips under 5km, especially considering over 60% of all trips in Kelowna are under 5km. Additionally, bikeshare will benefit tourists that can extend their reach to destinations past walking distance.
Escooters can be operated in selected off-street corridors within the City of Kelowna. The map attached provides information about where e-scooters can be legally operated in Kelowna.