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Calgary bike share applications open: Here’s the rules operators have to follow

Rules are now in place for potential Calgary bike share operators eyeing up the city for expansion of their dual-wheeled domains.

The City’s Framework for Dockless Bike Share Pilot was opened Sept. 4 and interested parties have until the Sept. 14 to submit their application for permit.

Calgary’s Cycling Coordinator Tom Thivener said they’d been working on the application package for nearly six months prior to city’s council’s unanimous approval of the two-year bike share pilot in July, so it could be to roll out this year.

“This wasn’t just dropped on our plate,” Thivener said.

“We’ve been working on it for a while and watching what other cities like Seattle and Dallas were doing and most of the cities doing bike share successfully have a regulated permit.”


Thivener went on to say that as long as the companies agree to the conditions of the permit then they’re granted access to the city right-of way to use, operate and park the bike.

The hope is that some bike share companies looking to open up shop could technically have a permit by Sept. 15 and open up shop by the end of the month.

Thivener said they’ve had as many as 15 companies inquire about bike share in Calgary, but some have asked about having exclusive rights to operate.

“We’ve definitely got that vibe from some that they don’t want to compete, but that they’d rather be the one operator in town,” Thivener said.

The companies have to pay $600 per application, and then will be charged $15 per bicycle per permit based on their fleet size. There will also be a $5 per bicycle parking improvements fees and a $25 per bike security deposit, up to a maximum of $15,000 per permit holder.

The document states these fees are to offset any costs incurred by the city for the duration of the pilot project.

So, what kind of rules to the companies have to agree to? We went through the 45-page application document to pick out some of the main points:

  • Phase one minimum number of bikes – 250; maximum of 750 per applicant
  • Demonstrate a plan to detect and re-park improperly parked bicycles
  • Provide an education plan to ensure customers know how to ride properly on streets and pathways and where they’re allowed to ride, along with helmet laws
  • How a company will provide service to those without mobile phone services or credit cards
  • Bikes must be available to rent 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • No third-party advertising, sponsorships or promotions on the bicycles unless approved by the city.
  • Must hold commercial liability insurance (similar to ride-share-type rules).
  • Permit holders must respond to pedestrian obstructions or safety concerns within two hours of them being brought forward.
  • The city can remove or re-park any of the bikes in violation of the permit and will charge back the permit holders.
  • In App ability to communicate via text or alert to let the customer know if it’s being parked in a non-permitted area
  • Geo-fencing of parking areas, no-parking areas, no-riding zones or other locations at the request of the city.
  • All bicycles must remain in an upright position with both wheels on the ground
  • Bikes can’t sit in any one spot for more than 5 days (there’s a geo-location aspect to all of this where the bikes need to be locatable at any time).
  • It’s worth reading the section on parking (if you knew what a furniture zone was you win today’s gold star).

Let’s just say the rules are comprehensive.

LiveWire Calgary reached out to both LimeBike and Uber (possible entrants into the bike share realm in Calgary) for comment on the applications, but neither responded to email requests for comment by the time this piece was published.

UPDATE: LimeBike has responded to an email request for an interview and we’ll update the story with their comments after the interview.

For more information on Calgary’s proposed bike share program, visit calgary.ca/bikeshare.