Saanich’s Sean Elliott has started the wheels rolling on a business he hopes will give local residents a ride for their money.
Elliott recently introduced TapBike to the Greater Victoria market, offering bicycles for rent out a pair of Saanich locations as well as other spots in the region.
TapBike is a dockless bike rental service that operates out of a few hub locations in the region – Howard Johnson at Elk Lake, the Days Inn Uptown and the Inn at Laurel Point, with a few more locations in the works.
“The bike share system is dockless, as no specialized parking station is required, but our hybrid locking solution allows for bikes to be locked to standard parking racks or street furniture.”
The TapBike rentals are ride and return, requiring riders to return the bikes to the hub location where they were rented as opposed to just logging out and leaving them at their destination.
“This system is better for longer day riding. The other dockless systems are geared for big cities and high density,” said Elliott, adding the other system could result in a rider leaving their bike to pick up a coffee only to come out to find someone else has rented it.
“We have membership plans for frequent riders. It’s a monthly plan that will give you x amount of hours a day for a fee.”
Users must first download the TapBike app off Google Play or Apple iTunes, where you can then enter a profile and deposit a minimum of $20 into your digital wallet. Each bike has a number on its frame. Enter that number into the app screen and the lock will open. You then take out that adaptable plug-in chain, which you can take with you. When you lock it again, it logs you out.
“You can use this like it’s your own bike. Our locking system is adaptable, it adapts to almost any bike frame,” said Elliott.
Rentals are $2 for every 30 minutes. There are currently 20 bikes available for public rental, with another 10 set aside for a private fleet for the Songhees First Nation.
He said TapBike also licenses out its automated bike rental technology. “As our locking system can adapt to most bike frames, it provides a good solution for traditional rental operators who would like to automate and expand bike fleets without expanding staff resources,” he said.
Elliott initially started up his company in April 2016 as IsleShare Cycle, switching to TapBike at the end of last year to better reflect their upgrade to Bluetooth technology.
But the fledgling company suffered an early setback when an international competitor, U-Bicycle, entered the local market.
“It was actually a really big jolt. To be honest, it’s cost us a couple of contracts. It’s viewed that the market may be covered, but we have a very different system,” said Elliott, adding the TapBike system is also more well suited for local residents.
“They may want to use it as a daily bike, as well for longer trips, because we have more gears.”
Elliott expects to have 40 bikes available for rental by the end of July, with more rental locations coming on board in the months ahead, which can be found at www.tapbike.com/victoria.