UBC drops Dropbike for new bike sharing service

As UBC ends its pilot project with Dropbike, a new bike sharing service HOPR will be taking its place.

Transportation Planner Adam Hyslop from UBC Campus and Community Planning (C+CP) told The Ubyssey the Dropbike pilot project will end on July 15, 2019. According to C+CP’s bike sharing webpage, all Dropbikes will be removed from UBC campus by the last date of the project.

“We had a one-year pilot program to explore the feasibility of a public bike-sharing program on the Vancouver campus and that one-year pilot is coming to an end,” Hyslop said.

“UBC overwhelmingly supports a bike sharing program and there is a considerable demand from a wide range of users. So, we decided to move forward, to make it an ongoing program.”

The program will start with 100 bikes, but this number is expected to double by September 2019.

“As the incoming bike share program, HOPR is thrilled to provide a fun, fast and sustainable transportation option for getting around campus,” said Mia Kohout, director at Cyclehop Corp Canada.

HOPR, a CycleHop LLC bike share program, will be brought in by the same team operating Vancouver’s Mobi by ShawGo.

“The program will be operated with a fleet of GPS-enabled, three-speed bikes that can be accessed using the HOPR Transit App,” Kohout said.

According to Kohout students staff and faculty will be able to purchase $15 monthly plan or a $89 annual plan which includes one hour of free riding time per day. A flexible pay per ride option is also available and costs $1 to unlock the bike and 15 cents per minute for users, or 10 cents per minute for pass holders.

Hyslop also explained that those who purchase an annual HOPR membership will be able to use it as an annual membership for Mobi by ShawGo.

Hyslop also confirmed that Dropbike users will be able to receive a refund on their deposits with Dropbike.

In a statement to The Ubyssey, Dropbike Representative Qimeng Weng confirmed that “[u]sers can contact our Drop customer support team through the in-app chat function for deposit refund requests, which will be credited back to the user within 7-10 business days of processing the request.”

Rocky road

Although Dropbike is on its way out, Weng confirmed the company was satisfied with the pilot project at UBC.

“More than 30,000 trips were taken on our bikes and for most parts we were able to prove that an organized bike-sharing system is possible if all stakeholders work together, as we did with the UBC community,” she said in the statement.

Throughout the year of the pilot project, UBC community members reported several concerns with Dropbike, including annoyance at the 'chirping' from discarded bikes. A UBC alumnus also exposed data vulnerability with Dropbike’s app in September 2018.

“Of course, just like any shared mobility program, our service faced some early challenges as well and there is always a learning curve,” said Weng.

In March 2019, while the pilot project was still ongoing, C+CP conducted a survey to gauge user’s reactions to the Dropbike service. According to their results, “buzzing or ‘chirping’ bikes were the biggest issue experienced by respondents, followed by bikes sitting idle, being parked in the way, and bike racks being full of Dropbikes.”

['auto'] Courtesy UBC Campus and Community Planning

“There were bikes everywhere. Some were thrown around at the wrong places,” said Rob Xin, a Dropbike user.

Hyslop told The Ubyssey that UBC recognizes hiccups associated with the “dockless” model.

According to him, HOPR will have financial incentives to ensure that bikes remain at the right places. Users can gain credits by returning a bike to a designated parking hub, and a surcharge will be placed on users who drop their bike outside a hub.

C+CP’s survey also notes overall the satisfaction rate with Dropbike “was relatively low, with 52% of respondents being moderately or very dissatisfied with the Dropbike pilot.”

Despite the low satisfaction rate, the survey shows the UBC community in general supports a public bike share program. Eighty-one per cent of respondents said they “support” or “strongly support” a bike share program compared to 12 per cent of respondants who selected “oppose.”

Online reactions to the news that Drobike was leaving UBC were mainly positive.

“Great news, except for the fact that they're replacing it with a permanent program. No one uses these bikes, and they just make a cluttered mess. Didn't we learn our lesson already?” commented Reddit user nambis.

“No one used the bikes because they were a disaster. Half of them were broken and the app worked about 10% of the time. Let's hope the execution is better next time. Good riddance to dropbike!” commented Reddit user columbo222.

This article has been updated to clarify the pricing structure of HOPR’s pay per ride option.