A protected Vancouver bike lane adjacent to a bus. Courtesy of Chris Allard.

A protected Vancouver bike lane adjacent to a bus. Courtesy of Chris Allard.

Vancouver’s City Council has approved the implementation of a 1,500 bike, 125 station bike share program. The city is expected to invest $6 million in the program to fund equipment expenses and $500,000 per year to maintain the system.

Bixi will supply the equipment and Alta Bicycle Share will operate the system. Unlike other Alta Bicycle Share and Bixi systems in Washington, D.C., New York, Chattanooga, and elsewhere, the bikes will have seven speeds to better handle hilly terrain. The system will also feature several helmet vending machines so that casual riders can comply will the city’s mandatory helmet law.

The mandatory helmet law in Melbourne is widely attributed to the program’s very low usage rate. However, given the pervasive bike culture and extensive infrastructure in Vancouver, along with helmet distribution stations, the city may see a dissimilar fate than its struggling Aussie counterpart.

Alta Bicycle Share, based in Portland, OR, has landed contracts in three of the Pacific Northwest’s biggest cities, including Seattle and Portland. Each program is expected to launch in 2014. Any profits for Vancouver’s system will be split 50/50 between the city and Alta.