Pedal in the Peg starts with 22 cycles at five locations

City hopes bike-share program gains traction

THE training wheels have come off bike sharing in Winnipeg. Downtown Winnipeg BIZ, with funding from the City of Winnipeg, officially launched the city’s first bikesharing program on Wednesday.

Pedal in the Peg features 22 bicycles that can be rented from five downtown locations.

“We’re trying to catch up to other major cities with our active transportation strategy. This is just one more option for visitors, but also for residents, to jump on one of these free bikes and give it a spin,” Mayor Brian Bowman said.

Bowman, alongside Downtown Winnipeg BIZ CEO Stefano Grande, were the program’s first official participants Wednesday morning, buckling on helmets and taking a quick spin around city hall.

The program has been languishing as a little-known pilot project for at least a year. During that time, approximately 200 people have set out on cycling adventures, the BIZ said.

The city will provide $1,750 in annual funding. The rental locations are at city hall, the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ (426 Portage Ave.), the Alt Hotel, the Delta Hotel and the Holiday Inn.

Bike rentals are free at city hall and the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ, while rental fees apply at the hotel locations. Bikes go for about $14 for a half-day and $25 for a full day at the hotels, Grande said.

That makes Winnipeg’s program significantly pricier than most other bikeshare programs in the country, such as those in Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto, which range from $5 to $10 per day.

Renters are given everything they need for a downtown cycling adventure, including a bicycle, helmet, bike lock and a cycling map, Grande said.

“It’s about giving people that other option to grab a bike and go to a meeting, go visit a restaurant, go to a museum. Again, just really buying into where the market is going — 100,000 people a day come downtown for work, as well as our students. Not everyone can afford a bike,” Grande said.

The BIZ hopes to expand the program to other areas downtown in the summer, including the University of Winnipeg and the convention centre.

That expansion is just the start, however, as Grande said there are a number of ways the BIZ will try to improve the program. Improvements include more bikes, more rental locations and expanding beyond downtown.

Grande said he hopes Pedal in the Peg will serve as a template for a citywide bike-sharing program, and hasn’t ruled out the possibility of

getting bikes equipped with winter tires so people can use them year-round.

Bowman said programs such as Pedal in the Peg are an important part of the city’s active transportation strategy. He hopes it is a springboard for more initiatives.

“We want to see more options like this for people. When you travel to other cities, you see the ride — the cyclingsharing companies like these options available in a more robust way,” Bowman said.

“This is a step in the right direction. I want to see more of this in Winnipeg. It’s a great way to get around and get some exercise.”

A recurring problem with many bikesharing programs in major cities is theft and vandalism, but Grande said so far that hasn’t been an issue in Winnipeg.

“We didn’t know exactly how this was going to unfold, but we didn’t have that issue (theft and vandalism). During the day, downtown is busy. Our sidewalks are full and we haven’t had any thefts.”