On April 25, 2019, Vancouver held a talk as part of TransLink Tomorrow’s The Future of Mobility speaker series – how can micromobility support a livable region? Industry experts and policymakers came together to speak on all things micromobility related. Shared micro-mobility refers to any small, human or electric-powered transportation solution such as bikes, e-bikes, scooters, e-scooters and used as a shared resource between multiple users.
According to some industry experts, the idea of tech driven, shared micromobility has “been the fastest technological adoption in history.” In this article, we will discuss key points raised at TransLink Tomorrow’s: The Future of Mobility talk, the present micromobility offerings in the city and what the landscape of Vancouver micromobility will look like in the future.
To read more articles in our Shared Mobility By Region series, click here.
Micromobility in Vancouver, 2019
Translink tomorrow’s: the future of mobility SERIES
The latest talk in Translink Tomorrow’s: the future of mobility series, focused heavily on how micromobility will shape the future of shared mobility within the Greater Vancouver area. It was universally agreed by the speakers at the panel that Micromobility is fast becoming a defining feature of “livable city” development plans.
There has been widespread adoption across many North American cities, however Vancouver has been a slow adopter of this technology and other’s such as ride-hailing. Andrew McCurran, Translink’s Director of Strategic Planning and Policy spoke of this slow adoption being a benefit to the city and its residents. Not rushing into rolling out shared micromobility options such as kick e-scooters, has allowed the city to learn from other cities and fully consider issues, such as safety, accessibility and vandalism.
However, globally, the micromobility market could be worth hundreds of billions of dollars within the next 10 to 15 years and unlike most automobile trips, micromobility are generally zero-emission or active trips.
KEY POINTS CONSIDERED:
- CAR OWNERSHIP: Car ownership across Canada is decreasing, particular amongst young professionals across Canada’s large and medium sized cities, therefore the demand for new and improved shared mobility services continues to rise – putting pressure on local municipalities to create innovative solutions. One of which is micromobility.
- LAND-USE AND CONGESTION: Rising numbers in population across Canadian cities like Vancouver, has created intense land-use competition, particularly when it comes to mobility and allocated road space. Transportation planners must think about the infrastructure build-out needed in the future that will support the increase of e-bikes and e-scooters within the area.
- DATA SHARING: Managing this transition will require extensive, high quality data that focuses on user preferred route choices, mode-shifting behaviour and areas within the city that use micromobility more often than others. Data sharing will be pivotal in creating a successful micromobility system and landscape within the city.
- USER EXPERIENCE: “Smart” urban governance initiatives designed to improve the user experience are steps that will work towards creating an efficient, convenient and safe micromobility future in Vancouver. For example, rolling out pilots in pedestrian-intensive places like Jericho Beach or UBC and restricting automobile access in tourist heavy places like Granville Island could be one solution.
micromobility in the city
infrastructure – Build it and they will come
Many trips in the city are less than 5 km, which is less than 20 minutes by bike. While cycling is growing in popularity within the city, people were discouraged from riding because of challenges such as lack of direct bike routes, finding secure parking and safety when cycling in traffic.
The City of Vancouver and Translink’s 2040 plan focus on designing a bicycle infrastructure across the city of Vancouver that will minimize conflicts with cars, pedestrians and other cyclists. Routes on arterials and other busy streets should be physically separated wherever possible. Routes on neighbourhood streets may require traffic restrictions, speed management and/or parking restrictions to ensure comfort for a broad range of users. There are a few of the items being considered when building out the current infrastructure.
Meg Holden, Urban Studies professor at Simon Fraser University, said,
With the expansion of separated bike lanes now forming an actual functional network through downtown, there is an explosion of different kinds of personal mobility devices being used. We have created the infrastructure and people are finding fun ways to make use of it.
VANCOUVER BIKE SHARING
Since its launch three years ago on July 20, 2016 by the City of Vancouver and Vancouver Bike Share Inc., the bike share system has been eagerly adopted by Vancouver residents and has remained the only successful bike share scheme within metro Vancouver.
In its first year, Mobi by Shaw Go saw exceptional uptake with over 35,000 users by fall 2017. In 2018 Mobi by Shaw Go had a total of 154 stations, over 1,500 bikes, and over 1 million rides covering over three million kilometres. While bike share systems in other cities are popular options for tourists, the most popular reasons for choosing to use Mobi bike in Vancouver are commuting to work and going to meetings: partly attributed to the high bike thefts in Vancouver. Other popular reasons are taking one-way trips or linking with other modes, like walking or transit and to run a quick errand or to socialize.
Mobi Bike Share offers numerous payment packages that covers a wide range of incomes which makes it a highly affordable service. These packages include a
- A 24 hour, $12 pass with 30 minutes worth of free riding on each ride taken.
- A 30 day, $25 pass with 30 minutes worth of free riding on each ride taken.
- A 365 day pass at $129 with unlimited 30 minute rides.
- A 365 day pass plus with unlimited 60 minute rides.
DOCKLESS BIKE SHARE
However, there is a new bike share player in the region but it is currently only available in three municipalities outside the City of Vancouver, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, and Richmond: U-bicycle. Unlike Mobi Bike Share in Vancouver and many other more prominent bike share systems, U-bicycle is a dockless system, which significantly increases flexibility for users.
All three of U-bicycle’s systems in the region require no investment from municipal governments. Cyclists still have to dock and retrieve bikes at designated zones, known as havens. Solar-powered technology enables a remote locking device and a GPS locator for both users and operators to locate the bikes when needed.
The Richmond-based bike share company’s system is completely app based and to use the bikes, cyclists must pay a one-time $50 refundable deposit, and then top up their balance. The rate for riding is cheap at just $1 per 30 minute period.
Alternatively, frequent users can acquire a 24-hour pass for $15.75 or an annual pass for $157.50.
North Vancouver is also currently piloting a dockless bike share service: Uber’s Jump e-bikes. The Jump bikes can be picked up and left anywhere, as long as they are attached to a bike rack with a retractable lock included with the bike itself. Users who fail to do so face warnings, fines of $25 and a possible ban.
UBC BIKE SHARE
University of British Columbia has just ended its pilot dockless bikeshare project with Dropbike and a new bike sharing service HOPR will be taking its place. HOPR is part of Cyclehop who runs Mobi in the City of Vancouver. Transportation Planner Adam Hyslop from UBC Campus and Community Planning said,
UBC overwhelmingly supports a bike sharing program and there is a considerable demand from a wide range of users. So, we decided to move forward, to make it an ongoing program.
The program will start with 100 bikes on the campus, but this number is expected to double by September 2019.
At present, provincial regulations do not permit motorized scooters being used on public roads. However, the BC Ministry of Transportation has indicated that it is evaluating legislation that could possibly permit new types of active transportation on the roads in British columbia – and scootering is one consideration. According to the Lime, municipal governments in Victoria, Kelowna, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Toronto, Windsor, and Halifax are already in the process of developing rules for electric scooter share, ahead of their respective provincial approvals.
Currently, Lime has just one electric scooter market in Canada, after it launched an electric scooter share pilot in Waterloo through a municipal agreement. Now the company is hoping to expand its reach to the streets of Vancouver. Christopher Schafer, Senior Director of Strategic Development for Lime recently said,
With cities like Vancouver recently having declared a climate change emergency and the transportation sector being one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, Lime sees electric scooter share operations playing a role in encouraging more BC residents to shift to environmentally friendly forms of shared electric micro-mobility that help reduce traffic congestion, particularly for first km and last km trips to and from public transit.
The company has had discussions with the provincial government, Vancouver mayor’s office, and Vancouver city council and is, at present, actively looking for staff to help advocate and plan for Lime’s expansion in Vancouver.
OTHER MICROMOBILITY OPTIONS
Veemo’s vehicles are fully enclosed and outfitted with bicycle handlebars, pedals, hand brakes, power windows and navigation unit. The solar-powered units have an electric pedal system that can assist the rider up hills or over tough terrain.
Since this pilot, the company has been featured at the Micromobility Summit in California, made an appearance on Dragon’s Den and received funding in the amount of 422k from the Canadian government. As of yet however, the shared mobility service is not available on the streets of Vancouver, however their vehicles have been spotted on the streets of San Francisco. We have high hopes for the future for this Vancouver based start up.
THE FUTURE OF MICROMOBILITY
Overall, it would appear that Vancouver is definitely moving towards the implementation of micromobility within the city, albeit, at a slower rate that most other large North American cities. The introduction of dockless bike share pilots is exciting and a definite step in the right direction.
The future of kick e-scooter policy is still uncertain, but with initiatives such as Translink 2040 and Transport2050, the likelihood of these systems being introduced and succeeding is high. The city of Vancouver aims to learn from the mistakes of its North American counterparts and ensure that when a service is introduced it is safe, efficient and convenient for all the residents of the city.
Each year, Rail~Volution visits the progressive North American cities that are making great strides with their public transportation systems and in building ‘livable’ communities.
If you want to learn more about micromobility, our CEO Sandra Phillips will be leading a panel of international experts at Rail~Volution, September 8-11 here in Vancouver.
The discussion will focus on:
a) Public transit integration with new modes: how are these new forms best integrated into public transit?
b) Social equity: what is the potential of these new forms of mobility to serve underserved communities (unbanked, less affluent demographics etc)?
c) Measure of success: do we need new measures for these new forms of transportation? How should cities measure impacts of these forms of transportation going forward?
Do you have a specific topic that impacts shared mobility that you’d like to see covered in our trend series? Tell us about it here.
Note: This article has not been endorsed or sponsored by any of the providers mentioned and there is no affiliation between movmi and them.