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Bike-sharing aims to pedal into Victoria

May 17 2012

Victoria should consider a community bike-share program like the Bixi system used in Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto, says a new sustainability action plan.

Bike-share systems station bikes at docks around the city. Users can rent a bike using a key purchased through subscription, an access code provided by the pay station or with a credit card.

Mayor Dean Fortin said the bike-share is "a cool idea" whose time has come.

"Victoria more and more is investing in cycling infrastructure. It's an easy city to bike around in. That's why we have the highest commuter bike rate in all of Canada," he said. "So it's a simple thing that would make it really easy for people to move around."

A wide array of bike-share models have evolved in recent years.

"The other beauty of most of the bike-share models is that they don't cost the taxpayer anything. Or if they cost anything to the taxpayer, it's extremely marginal because they're based on advertising on the bikes and on the stands," said Roy Brooke, city director of sustainability.

"So these are the kinds of models we'd want to look at in Victoria, where we maximize environmental, social and economic benefits without sticking the taxpayer with any additional bills."

Brooke said the proposed action plan is an important next step for the city to take.

"The City of Victoria is already doing a great many things right in terms of sustainability and is leading in a wide range of areas," Brooke said.

"But there's a great opportunity to do much more and to move the bar from good practice, which is where we're at right now, to real sustainability leadership. To move from good to great."

The plan, to be considered by councillors today, proposes a variety of initiatives that could be started over the next three years, including:

? Development and piloting of a bike-share program.

? Reduced energy consumption in lighting and powering civic buildings, and street and traffic lighting.

? Greening of the city's vehicle fleet.

? Implementation of kitchen scraps collection.

? Completing conversion of

the two former Traveller's Inns into affordable housing.

? Working with the private

sector to expand investment in green, health and clean technologies.

The plan says the challenge for the city "is about far more than just being 'green.' "

"It's also about expanding the tax base to capture new opportunity in a lowcarbon economy; saving money by reducing waste and inefficiency; and, protecting vulnerable citizens and seeing them as an asset to the community."

Fortin said the plan takes a practical approach.

"It's what can the city do, practically in the short term, and actually get something done? That's my first blush of this report.

It's practical and it's doable," he said.

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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