Can Bike Share live again?

Dale Duncan, Spacing’s managing editor, wrote about Bike Share in this week’s Eye Weekly.

In December, the Community Bicycle Network (CBN), BikeShare’s parent organization, announced that the internationally renowned, award-winning program would close due to lack of funding. (A mere week after BikeShare announced it would officially close, the city honoured it yet again with the Community Project Award of Excellence for “an original approach to reducing emissions and encouraging cycling.”) And last week, Pyjor, who has coordinated the operation since the beginning and has played a large part in its success, announced that she has decided to move on — despite a new hope that the program can be revived.

“It was just sheer will that we were able to keep the project funded after [the first] three years,” says Pyjor candidly. “The more years we were in operation, the more time we spent writing grant applications for smaller amounts of funds.”

Bringing BikeShare back to life, and how the city could play a role in this, is an idea only now starting to echo through the municipal towers at Queen and Bay. After one month of work behind the scenes, one renegade city employee may have found just the solution — and cash within the city’s recreation budget — to get the organization up and running again in a new form. If all goes according to Parks, Forestry and Recreation staffer Allan Crawford’s plan, BikeShare will be able to reach out to those who didn’t even know it existed this summer and CBN will develop new partnerships that will help sustain the program for years to come.

When CBN asked Crawford, who runs the city’s Inner City Outtripping Centre, for permission to store the yellow bikes in Lamport Stadium for the whole year (not just the winter), the thought of perfectly good bikes sitting unused for so long inspired him to take action. His idea: run BikeShare out of community centres with Parks, Forestry and Recreation footing the bill to hire a project manager and mechanic. The money, he says, is already there. Funds can be found by simply reallocating cash from underused programs, such as that guitar class nobody signed up for. Best of all, by running hubs out of community centres, the program will be able to reach a broader audience.

photo by Rannie Turingan