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Bike share idea floated for Langley Township

Councillor hopes there could be a pilot project as early as this summer
Langley is a popular destination for cyclists, including during last year’s edition of the annual Granfondo ride, seen here. A new bike share program might bring lower-intensity local riding to parts of the Township. (Langley Advance Times files)

Langley Township is considering a possible bike share project, with a pilot program that could launch as early as this summer, said a councillor.

“Over the past number of months, there’s been discussion between a bike share provider and staff,” said Councillor Michael Pratt.

“The dream would be a summertime pilot project,” Pratt added.

He couldn’t name the bike share company, but said the project includes e-bikes, which have batteries and internal motors that can provide power assist for riders.

“It’s not just your typical bicycle,” he said.

E-bikes make it much easier for novice or expert riders to get up and down some of the steep hills that divide Langley’s major neighbourhoods.

Pratt said that the discussions are at a preliminary phase and he couldn’t identify the bike share company.

For the project to go ahead, there would be a council debate.

“It would have to be a conversation that council as a whole would have,” Pratt said.

This is not the first attempt to set up a bike share program in Langley.

In 2018, the Fort Langley Business Improvement Association and Trinity Western University proposed a pilot program for a dockless bike share program, in partnership with a firm called U-bicycle.

The pilot never got off the ground, but it would have seen bike share centres at TWU and in downtown Fort Langley, for the use of students and tourists.

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Pratt said similar locations might be used if there is a pilot bike share program this year.

He said it would make it easier for TWU students to access other areas of the community, such as Fort Langley, Walnut Grove, and Willoughby.

“It’s been proven in other municipalities that something like this works,” he said.

The other issue for bike shares, or cycling in general in Langley, is that the community’s network of bike lanes and cycling infrastructure isn’t finished.

Pratt acknowledged that there are plenty of places in the Township where many people don’t feel safe cycling yet.

There are local efforts in both City and Township to complete key pieces of bike lane infrastructure.

On April 5, B.C. Minister of Transportation Rob Fleming announced Bill 23, legislation aimed at reducing risks for cyclists and pedestrians.

Amendments to traffic laws are to include a one-metre minimum safe-passing distance and a three-metre minimum following distance for cars near bikes on a shared road.

There are two main kinds modern of bike share programs – docked and dockless. In a dock-based system, the bikes are locked into fixed racks and have to be returned to one of the racks at the end of a trip.

A dockless system uses bikes fitted with GPS trackers and allows them to be picked up or dropped off at a variety of locations.

This allows more flexibility, but has led to problems with bikes being abandoned in awkward places such as the middle of sidewalks, or thrown into rivers, harbours, and other places. Geofencing – using GPS to prevent the bikes from being left outside of designated areas – has been used to try to prevent the worst problems.

In both types of bike share, riders use smartphones to unlock bikes, and they pay based on the time they’re using the bikes.

Mobi, the bike share program in Vancouver, began offering e-bikes last summer.

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Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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