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New e-bike share pilot program rolls into Courtenay and Comox

The fleet comprises 40 e-bikes spread across 20 key locations
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Courtenay and Comox now have access to a new e-bike share program pilot, launched on May 16. The fleet currently has 40 e-bikes spread across 20 stations in key areas including the Comox Valley Art Gallery (picture).(Olivier Laurin / Comox Valley Record)

Blue bikes have been turning heads across Comox and Courtenay as the Valley’s latest mode of transportation has hit the streets.

Officially launched on May 16, the new e-bike share pilot program offers a fleet of 40 e-bikes spread across 20 stations located in key locations throughout the two municipalities.

These numbers are forecasted to swell to 75 e-bikes and 30 stations during the upcoming summer months, providing tourists with additional activity to explore the region.

Spearheaded and fully funded by BCAA, this pilot is in partnership with the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD), with support from the City of Courtenay and the Town of Comox.

“Evolve is an e-bike share program or service offered by BCAA and we look to communities who are interested in launching active and sustainable transportation options for their residents,” said the head of Evolve e-bike share Leanne Buhler. “The CVRD, Comox and Courtenay all had a great interest and enthusiasm to bring this type of program to the region.”

Welcoming this new initiative, CVRD manager of transit and facilities, Mike Zbarsky, said the project is a positive step for a greener future.

“Encouraging active transportation by improving cycling infrastructure and introducing a public e-bike share program is part of our strategy and we are pleased to join forces with BCAA to bring Evolve E-Bike Share to the Comox Valley,” said Zbarsky. “We can’t wait to offer this opportunity here (and) get people out of their vehicles for short trips around town and establish a new active transportation habit.”

Initiating its first pilot in Nanaimo earlier this month, BCAA has extended its services to the Comox Valley, recognizing the region as an ideal fit for the program’s criteria.

“(The Comox Valley has an) excellent infrastructure throughout the region, including protected bike lanes and lots of space for people to ride safely and comfortably,” said Buhler. “(Secondly) this area also has great enthusiasm for cycling and already has that culture of recreation and cycling.”

While the pilot program is currently set to run for an initial two-year period, BCAA intends to establish a long-term presence in the region.

“We’re very confident that we’ll be able to run this program successfully and extend that period to a much longer term contract so that this can be a service that everybody can rely on as a transportation option,” said Buhler.

Though Cumberland is not included at this point, Buhler mentions that BCAA and the Village are currently in talks to explore ways to link the municipality with the rest of the region.

After concerns were voiced on social media about the possibility of these bikes being vandalized, stolen, or scattered around the city, Buhler reassured that BCAA is proactive in addressing such incidents.

“All the bikes are GPS-tracked so we have excellent visibility of where the bikes are at all times, whether they’re in or outside of a trip,” said Buhler. “In terms of theft and vandalism, despite what people may think, it’s a really quite rare and isolated incident. If there’s an issue, we deal with (the latter on a) case-by-case basis.”

Having pilots in other cities including Whistler, Burnaby, and Nanaimo, Buhler mentioned that BCAA is committed to ensuring the program’s success in the Valley.

“Our organization has a lot of experience in making sure that these programs are run smoothly and that issues are addressed very quickly so that our community partners have a great experience with us running the program,” said Buhler.

How it works

Cyclists can access the 40 electric bikes by downloading the Evo mobile app. The bikes are unlocked by scanning the bike’s QR code, and users can then don the helmet in the bike’s basket and start riding. Riders can pay by the minute or hour, or opt for a monthly subscription for reduced rates.

E-bike rental rates are 35 cents per minute, $13 per hour, or 10 cents per minute for users who sign up for a $10 monthly subscription.

Evolve parking zones span across downtown and key residential areas, including local landmarks like the Comox Valley Art Gallery, Courtenay District Museum, Filberg Park, and more.

For more information or to download the app, visit evo.ca/evolve.

- With files from the Nanaimo News Bulletin

RELATED: E-bike share pilot program rolls out in Nanaimo

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Olivier Laurin

About the Author: Olivier Laurin

I’m a bilingual multimedia journalist from Montréal who began my journalistic journey on Vancouver Island with The Comox Valley Record in 2023.
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