A bike sharing program would be a boon to Edmonton

Public bikes, a new environmentally and economically friendly mode of transportation, could possibly make its introduction to Edmonton in the spring.

Bike sharing has been discussed by city council for a while. After researching many different plans, council decided that opening the market up to private companies would be the best option,  as it will require the least amount of public dollars. Bike sharing companies could be set up in the city as early as May if the urban planning committee agrees with the game plan put forward by the city.

Edmonton spent $7.5 million on downtown bike lanes in the spring of 2017, and downtown driving has become the bane of my existence due to all of the one-ways created by them. At first, I thought that this was a complete waste of money. I found them to be a very exclusive addition that only benefitted a small percentage of people who used biking as their primary mode of transportation.

The prospect of bike sharing coming to Edmonton totally changes my view. Bike lanes would no longer be for a small percentage of the population, but for the everybody, making the millions of tax dollars spent worth it. Adequate infrastructure already exists in the city, making the introduction of bike sharing a logical next step.

While in the research phase the city looked at the bike sharing system in Kelowna. Similar fare prices to those of Kelowna would make bike sharing an economically feasible option for many Edmontonians, as a one-month bus pass for an adult in Edmonton is $97 and a bike-sharing pass could only be around $25 per month. It would also ensure that everyone has the opportunity to make an environmentally friendly choice in transportation.

Public bikes would also benefit those who remain exclusively motorists. Once this system is introduced, it will ideally increase the number of cyclists in the downtown area. An increase in this number will decrease the number of cars on the road, therefore decreasing traffic congestion. Less cars on the road would also great for the environment because it will decrease the emission of greenhouse gasses. Biking creates one-tenth of the greenhouse emissions that an average car does. Bike sharing would provide an opportunity to improve air quality and reduce the city’s carbon footprint.

As a student, I’m excited to see if public bikes will be introduced on and around campus. If they are made available, gone will be the days of sprinting to classes. As we all know, Edmonton’s public transportation can be very unreliable; according to a city audit, only 58 per cent buses actually run on time.

Bike sharing would give students greater control over their commute to school, ensuring that they arrive on time. It also offers an alternative mode of transportation during the summer months, when most students no longer have a U-Pass and can’t access transit at a subsidized cost.

Ultimately, this change will be beneficial for all Edmontonians, and I can’t wait to see more people pedalling around the city.

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