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Calgary council unanimously approves bikesharing pilot project

Bikeshare is coming to Calgary.

Coun. Evan Woolley’s motion to bring about a two-year pilot was approved unanimously at council Monday Night.

A previous attempt to allow similar systems failed in 2012.

Bikeshare systems have already rolled out in other cities. The branded bikes include geolocation technology that causes the bike wheels to lock up if they leave a certain district.

Customers will access the cycles much like the Car2Go carsharing system, with an app that allows them to unlock the cycles and pay for the amount of time used.

Calgary is going forward with a two-year pilot that will allow bikeshare companies to set up shop in the city after applying through a tender process.

Coun. Jeromy Farkas wanted to know how the city would allow for the free market to thrive if one or two companies got a strong foothold during the pilot.

RELATED: Two year bike share program pedalled by Coun. Evan Woolley

The city’s bike czar, Tom Thivener, told council they will put out a new call each year during the pilot in hopes of attracting a range of companies.

The pilot will include a limit of 10,000 bikes citywide. Councillors’ main concern was with so-called bicycle litter that has been seen in other cities when cycles are irresponsibly discarded after the rider has reached his or her destination.

Woolley noted that much of the employment that comes about because of bikesharing will be with redistribution jobs. Workers will have to pick up clusters of bikes and redistribute them back to other parking spots around the city.

Woolley said he’s sure the companies will want to keep things neat and tidy.

“There’s a reputational risk to them in it not being successful,” he said.

Coun. Sean Chu wondered why the pilot would be two years, as it was noted the cycle-track pilot was only 18 months.

Thivener explained that this summer is already passing quickly, and the city wants the pilot to have two full seasons to evaluate its success.

Administration noted that there would be an opportunity for companies to provide winter cycling equipment, as in putting fat tires on their bikes and seeing if Calgarians have an appetite for winter cycling.