Bike sharing has rolled into Central Elgin.

In a 4-3 vote, Central Elgin councillors decided in January to partner with Elgin County and move ahead with a two-year pilot project for a bike-share program in Port Stanley that will promote cycle tourism.

A new jointly sponsored Central Elgin/Elgin County bike share program dubbed Ride Elgin kicked off Friday, June 7 in Port Stanley. Pictured at the opening ceremony above are, from left: Jessica Lang, Health Promoter with Southwestern Public Health; Dennis Crevits, Central Elgin Ward 2 councillor; Grant Jones, Deputy Warden for Elgin County; Colleen Row, Central Elgin Ward 1 councillor; Sally Martyn, Central Elgin Mayor; Jim Hudson, Executive Director for Southwestern Ontario Tourism; Jill Ferguson, representing Karen Vecchio; Delany Leitch, representing Jeff Yurek; Julie Gonyou, Elgin County CAO; Alan Smith, Elgin County Economic Development and Tourism Manager; Jess DeBackere, Elgin County Marketing and Communications Coordinator and Megan Shannon, Elgin County Tourism Services Coordinator.

With large scale bike sharing operations already underway and proving popular in places like Toronto and Hamilton, the county was eyeing a smaller, “turn-key” operation, such as the one Dropbike offers, where the company running the program is responsible for providing bicycles, maintenance, insurance, etc.

In its first year, thanks to grants, the program will cost each partner a split share of $5,750. While the municipality and county are hopeful grants will be received for the second year as well, if none are received they will evenly assume the increased cost that will amount to $17,500.

Alan Smith, Economic Development general manager for the county, brought the project forward to councillors at the December 10 meeting and explained the benefits of including more cycle tourism in Central Elgin, something he said Ontario also recognized the importance of.

Currently bikes offered through the program are for adults and helmets will have to be provided by riders. Users will pay an hourly rate by credit card through a special smart phone app to unlock a bike to ride.
County councillors were also in favour of the program to enhance active transportation in the area.

There are four Dropbike supplied racks with bicycles that can be found at the Port Stanley Visitors Centre, Main Beach, Little Beach and Little Creek Park. For more information about the program, visit www.elgintourist.com/Rideelgin

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