A new bike share program seeks to make cycling around Hamilton and McMaster a more accessible option for commuters.

On Feb. 25, Peter Topalovic, with the City’s transportation demand management department, presented an implementation plan for a public bike share program to Hamilton City Council.

The plan proposes that 350 bikes be stationed at 30 points along the A-line and B-line transit routes. Users would pay a nominal fee to use a bike for a short period of time. As part of the “fourth-generation model,” the program is intended to integrate with rapid and public transit systems already in place.

Bike share would target Hamilton’s downtown core and west end. It would cost $1.6 million, to be covered by private stakeholders and Metrolinx, subject to funding approval.

Vivek Govardhanam, an SRA engineering representative, wants the SRA to endorse bike share in Hamilton. He will present a motion at the Assembly’s meeting this Sunday.

“We want to bring the idea of bike share to the mainstream,” said Govardhanam. “I think it would add a lot of symbolism if the MSU goes out and says, ‘we think it’s a very good idea to have this in Hamilton.’”

Govardhanam has been working with McMaster students Colin Delsey, Jason Yeng and Raheel Syed to raise awareness about bike share. The group has also been in consultation with the Office of Sustainability.

“McMaster is not going to have bike share for now, or for the next two or three years at least. But in the future we want to have bike share on campus. We want to encourage bike culture on campus,” said Govardhanam, who would like to see an ad hoc committee established by next year’s SRA.

Conversations about a possible bike share program in Hamilton first started in 2009. A feasibility study was conducted by two Arts & Science students, and a market analysis was conducted by MBA students.

“I think McMaster has been with us from day one,” said Topalovic.

According to Topalovic, the program would help to eliminate the ‘first and last mile barriers’ faced by commuters.

“A number of medium-sized cities are doing bike share, too,” he said. “It’s not just for the big cities like Toronto and New York.”

At the Feb. 25 transit budget meeting, Topalovic asked to move forward to the ‘request for proposal’ stage. Councillors have asked for more clarification about the experiences of other cities in terms of funding and infrastructure. The bike share plan will be revisited in the next budget approval meeting on March 27.

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