By: Srijani Datta, Assistant News Editor
Western Canada’s first dockless bikeshare program, U-bicycle North America, has been launched by a team of three SFU alumni. The U-bicycle team is lead by an all-female trio, CEO Grace Min (BA, sociology and education), Chief Strategic Officer Angel Fu (BBA, finance and marketing), and Business and Chief Marketing Officer Mandy Chan (BA, communication).
Describing the goal behind U-bicycle, the team wrote to The Peak over an email interview that “U-bicycle plans to support members of the community an affordable and reliable mode of transportation [sic] by building a smarter and greener city.”
Min wrote that the goal behind launching U-bicycle was to improve city living through eco-friendly transportation. “What inspired me to set up U-bicycle was BC’s clean air and amazing cycling infrastructure. I saw the opportunity of bringing this concept to promote healthy living, increase interconnectedness and a business that has a positive environmental impact.”
When asked why there was a need for dockless bikes, CEO Grace Min replied, “Accessibility, affordability and sustainability.” She explained that the dockless solution takes up less space on a busy road and provides a point-to-point commute solution and convenience. Min continued, “Users can pick up a bike anywhere and park the bike in a safe and legal location and continue on with their day. Having a dock-less [sic] bike share system allows more users to ride a bike since they can find a bike in their neighborhood and with its affordable pricing, more people can use the bikes for their daily commutes.”
According to Min, the company’s smart bicycles are specifically designed to cater to the residents of BC. When asked how exactly the smart bikes specifically cater to BC residents, she replied, “With specific modifications such as the enhanced fenders on the rear wheel for those rainy commutes, to the customizable and adjustable seat designs friendly to users of all shapes and sizes.” Min further added that “U-bicycle will also provide a complimentary helmet that is to be used during the rides to abide by the B.C. helmet laws.”
Explaining how the U-bicycle system works, Min stated that “it operates through a mobile app.” She continued, “To rent a bike, users need to make sure that their data and Bluetooth is on. Users can pick up the bike that they can locate on the map, scan the QR code, ride to their destination and end their trip by physically locking the bike (at the back wheel) and click ‘Complete’ on the app. Every 30 minutes ride is $1 (+5% GST).”
U-bicycle launched its service in Victoria, BC on October 2017, and SFU News reported that they operate 450 bicycles in the provincial capital. The company plans to expand to the lower mainland and beyond. Min announced to The Peak that U-bicycle is officially launching in Port Moody.