This month, there has been media coverage of the impact of our bikeshare, U-bicycle, on the Victoria bike-rental market. I would like to refute some untrue claims some people have made:
1. “City aids Chinese bike companies.” We are a registered Canadian company. Our head office is in Richmond. Our staff are a mix of Victorians and Vancouverites.
2. “At the expense of locals.” Shared services bring added benefits to both locals and visitors. We increase the number of people who can afford bicycling, which also benefits downtown businesses such as hostels and cafés, while bike rentals at $30-$40 have smaller benefits. If we bring down the cost of getting on a bike for everyone, then Victoria as a whole benefits.
3. “Thousands of bicycles at a cost of less than $100 per bicycle.” We have nearly 500 bicycles, and they cost many times more. The municipalities put regulations on the maximum number to ensure it stays manageable.
4. “Greater Victoria councillors and mayors are actively promoting the U-bicycle company.” The City of Victoria approached us because we have the capacity to launch a sufficient fleet of specialized bikes and we proposed a viable system.
Other municipalities such as Esquimalt, Langford and Saanich have agreed since. None have marketed or promoted us. All municipalities apply standard industry regulations to allow public bike parking.
I hope businesses can work with us to mitigate the economic and social changes dockless bikeshare brings to Victoria.
Victoria operations manager
U-bicycle North America