Report recommends city council approve three-year license for bike sharing start-up

Council will vote on Dropbike expansion later this month

One of Dropbike's bright orange bicycles.

In a report slated for May 1, 2018, Commissioner of Community Services Lanie Hurdle recommended a three-year license for bike sharing company Dropbike to operate across Kingston with a minimum of 200 bicycles.  The report follows a successful pilot project the company held in Kingston last summer.

The recommendation process began in December of 2017, when the city requested proposals for a long-term community bike share system in Kingston. The requests only received responses from companies Dropbike and Zagster.

Hurdle explained in her report that while both proposals were “very similar in terms of quality of equipment and approach,” Dropbike’s proposal didn’t require any upfront operating investments from the City of Kingston. Dropbike will only seek sponsorship and advertising after the system’s deployment.

Zagster’s proposal required $667,186 in sponsorship funding to deploy the system. In her report, Hurdle wrote that “[City] staff does not support” Kingston’s exposure to risk of financing Zagster’s potential shortfall should they fail to secure necessary funding, nor the risk of program delays and reduction of the program’s scope.

While Dropbike will deploy a minimum of 200 bicycles and 50 docking racks in Kingston at no cost to the City, Hurdle’s report stressed that an adequate number of docking racks be present at the launch of the program. 

Hurdle recommended the company seek $30,000 in funding for the purchase of additional docking racks from either the Ontario Municipal Commuter Cycling (OMCC) Program, or the Environment Reserve Fund if the province doesn’t approve use of the OMCC.

“Staff believes it is important to the success of the program that racks be in place for the launch in high traffic, high visibility locations,” she wrote.

Dropbike’s proposalinformed by opinion surveys and last summer’s pilotplans to make a bike sharing system more accessible to unconventional users by widening the variety of payment and rental methods, including cash-based payments and rental via SMS text messaging.

If city council votes in favour of Dropbike’s proposal later this month, the cost of an operational license will be $1 per year and a bike share system will launch in Kingston by July 1, 2018.


bike sharing, city council, City of Kingston, Dropbike

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