Jamiliya Wellard presented her proposal to council this week for the implementation of a Borrow a Bike program similar to the one she used last summer while visiting Quebec City.

‘Borrow a Bike’ possibly as early as this summer

While École Phoenix Grade 8 student Jamiliya Wellard was visiting Québec City last summer, she stayed on the campus of Laval University and toured the historic city using borrowed bikes.

So when she returned home, she began imagining what impact a “Borrow a Bike” program could have on our own town.

“I would love it if tourists had that same opportunity here,” she wrote in a letter to Campbell River city council, to whom she presented her idea this week.

She was hoping the city would approve her proposal of installing a kiosk of sorts, along with a series of bike racks, down at the end of the Seawalk in Willow Point, so that she and other volunteers could run the program throughout this coming summer.

The program would run Saturdays and Sundays through July and August from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wellard told council.

Her proposal was that they set up a “mobile office” which would have enough room for a volunteer to sit in out of the weather and process the bike loans, along with a dozen or so bikes and some bike racks

If it went forward, Wellard told council, she would personally work to set up a donation centre for second-hand bikes, helmets and locks, and ask local bike shops for donations of time to do tune-ups and maintenance for the program and have them checked over after every weekend of use.

The proposed program, Wellard wrote, “would work on a loan system where you would leave your passport or ID in exchange for a bike,” and borrowers would leave a credit card number to cover potential damage or theft, though the use of the bikes would be free.

“Persons using the Borrow a Bike program would also sign a waiver that it is a ‘use at your own risk’ bike program,” and would need to check in every two hours after borrowing the bike, Wellard wrote.

Mayor Andy Adams said the idea certainly reflects council’s desire for environmental sustainability to be considered while deciding on municipal initiatives to be implemented and both Coun. Michele Babckuk and Coun. Colleen Evans suggested various possibilities for acquiring volunteers, such as the city’s Youth Action Committee and the Volunteer Centre.

Coun. Charlie Cornfield mentioned to Wellard that some bike loan or rental programs he’s aware of have various pick-up and drop-off locations so the bikes don’t necessarily need to be returned to where they were signed out and can therefore also be used as one-way transportation, so that’s another idea that might be considered in the future should the program pan out.

Coun. Larry Samson moved that consideration of going forward with the program be referred to the city’s Community Services Recreation and Culture Commission and the Youth Action Committee for their feedback, which was passed unanimously.

Coun. Babchuk said she feels it’s a worthwhile initiative to pursue, and wondered aloud if it isn’t something they should also be talking to Tourism Campbell River & Region about helping with.

Coun. Samson agreed, and said he’d like to see it before the committees as soon as possible so they can work on possibly having it implemented by this July.