By Stephen Petrick
Wheels are in motion for a new bike share program for Haliburton County.
The program, led by the Rotary Club of Haliburton, would provide free access to bicycles for anyone 18 and older.
The bikes would be locked outside the new Haliburton Welcome Centre at 7 York Street and could be unlocked by users with an app on a smart device. Users will also have to sign an electronic waiver and provide a credit card number as a security deposit, but, assuming the bike they rent is returned in good shape, there would be no charge for using it.
The program won’t even cost taxpayers, Rotary members said. They intend to fund the program through their own fundraising efforts and through sponsorships. Their own budget projects a cost of about $13,000 to get it running.
The program was embraced whole-heartedly, when it was presented to Dysart et al councillors in a delegation by Rotary Club members Irv Handler, Mike Landry and its president Heather Phillips at their March 22 meeting, held virtually.
“Thank you Rotary Club for another great community initiative,” said Deputy Mayor Pat Kennedy, after a delegation from the club was presented and supported. (Kennedy was chairing the meeting at the time, because Mayor Andrea Roberts had declared a conflict of interest, as her husband is a member of the Rotary Club.)
The vote to support the program included provisions that the municipality grant the Rotary Club a lottery licence to fundraise for the program and that staff work with them to find the exact location near the Welcome Centre to install the bike rack.
The program is intended to provide six seven-speed bicycles at first, but if it’s successful, more could be added.
“The program is expandable,” Handler said. “If it’s a big success we can add more bicycles and more stations.”
The program fits with Rotary Club’s long history of supporting local infrastructure projects. In the past, the club has raised funds for the Welcome Centre and the town clock on Highland Street.
This program is designed to give everyone access to bicycles, so they can exercise and enjoy the scenery that makes Haliburton County special. Handler said he expects most users will take the bikes to the nearby Rail Trail.
“This is very much needed in the community, to get people out and about and to get exercise,” said Councillor Larry Clarke, after hearing the delegation. “Anything that gets [people] out and in the air is great.”
An opening date for the program wasn’t discussed at the meeting, but a report to council from Rotary Club said the bike share program would ideally run from Easter to Thanksgiving every year.