Meet Mobi, Vancouver’s new bike share program

Move over Car2Go, there's another ride share program coming to town

June 1, 2016

By Dominika Lirette / Photo: David Niddrie

“Bike sharing is like a gateway drug,” says Mia Kohout, general manager at Vancouver Bike Share Inc., a subsidiary of CycleHop, the company Vancouver hired to start the city’s first bike share program. “It’s the gateway to bicycling for a lot of people. I mean, we have so many people riding already, and the city has done such a fantastic job of building good infrastructure, and we’ve seen that directly result in an increase in the number of people who are riding.”

On May 20, the city announced the launch of a public bike share program this summer, called Mobi (pronounced moe-bee). The first phase of the program will be installed in and around downtown, going out to Arbutus Street, 16th Avenue, and Main Street. By the end of the summer, it is expected that there will be 1,500 Mobi bikes and 150 docking stations in place. After the summer, Kohout says they “absolutely” plan on expanding into other areas of the city.

Riders can take out the bikes for 30 or 60 minute trips and then park them at a docking station. When planning multiple trips in a day, you can dock the bike and go again on a new bike for 30 or 60 minutes, but you can’t go over your planned 30 or 60 minutes on one bike, otherwise you are charged an overage fee. Interested users can sign up online for the founding member plan. The prices vary from $99 to $129 for a whole year depending on whether you sign up for the unlimited 30 minute or 60 minute ride plan. Kohout says that when the system launches this summer, there will be other options available, such as monthly and daily passes.

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“We’re running our system using smart bikes,” Kohout says. “We call them smart bikes because they have a brain and they’re a city bike. They’re step-through bicycles with a full wheel cover, seven gears, a front basket, and a very comfortable, upright, relaxed riding position.” To maintain them, Kohout says they have a fleet of mechanics fixing bikes at docking stations and performing regular bike checks, as well as a warehouse to fix bikes with larger maintenance issues. Helmets are also provided with the bikes free of charge.

Another perk? You don’t need to worry about bike theft. “The reason that this works so well is because there are docking stations everywhere, so you don’t really have that need to take a bike and lock it up and go with your friends and come back and grab the same bike,” Kohout says. Instead, you can lock your bike in a docking station and then grab a new one for your next trip. “Theft to a user is totally different from having your own personal bike, because you’re really only going to be responsible for it when you’re riding it.” If a docking station isn’t nearby, you can lock up your bike, but beware that if the bike is away from the docking station for longer than your 30 or 60 minute plan, you will be charged an overage fee.

For those who aren’t comfortable riding bikes in the city, Vancouver Bike Share Inc. is partnering with HUB Cycling to provide bike education and road safety classes at a low cost. “They’re a cycling advocacy organization in Metro Vancouver, and they offer fantastic education programs where they do different levels of training,” Kohout says. “There are 100,000 Car2Go members in town, and I’d love to see 100,000 bike share users as well.”

Website: vancouverbikeshare.ca
Customer service: 778-655-1800

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