The City of Charlottetown and the Town of Stratford are working on an e-bike sharing program that could hit the ground as early as next year.
Cities like Toronto and Vancouver already have similar programs for bikes and e-bikes, and it's a growing trend across North America.
Scott Adams, manager of public works for the City of Charlottetown, told Island Morning host Mitch Cormier that with an increase in electric-bike users on the Island, and more retailers stocking e-bikes, it's a program the two municipalities think could really take off.
"We want all users, all abilities, to be able to take advantage of the program — doesn't matter your age or your skill level," said Adams. "With having that pedal-assist e-bike, you know, anyone could hop on and go anywhere."
Adams said the municipalities have been doing research with other jurisdictions across Canada to determine the best way for an e-bike program to work on the Island.
Based on their research, Adams said they have an idea of how they want the program to work, and will be doing a request for proposals to find a Canadian company that would implement the program.
They hope it will be "a city-owned but privately maintained system."
How would it work?
Adams said a lot of the details still need to be worked out, but essentially people would have an app on their phone, and when they approached the e-bike station, they would say they wanted to rent a bike.
If you're going from one side of downtown to the other, you pick it up at one end, bike across town and then drop it off at the nearest drop-off location. — Scott Adams, City of Charlottetown
The app would detect their location and unlock the bike. The person could then cycle as long as they wanted before returning the machine to any other e-bike station in the city.
"If you're going from one side of downtown to the other, you pick it up at one end, bike across town and then drop it off at the nearest drop-off location," said Adams.
"It's just that simple."
Aiming at 'cost-neutral'
Although the municipalities have explored some preliminary costs, they have not yet established what user fees might look like.
Together with provincial funding partners, they do intend to make renting an e-bike as affordable as possible.
"We have no intention to make this a revenue generator," Adams said. "Our recommendations to council will be to look at what all those operating costs are, and make this cost-neutral."
Adams said the municipalities are aiming to be able to launch the program sometime next year, if all of the pieces can come together in time.
"We just want to provide a service to our residents that benefits everyone — the residents, the visitors, everyone that comes to our city.
"It's another great way to get to explore our beautiful city."