Late last December, Hamilton council approved a non-profit bike share to be run by Social Bicycles and a non-profit board of directors.
To date, Social Bicycles’ business plan has not been made public, but it should.
Social Bicycles is a relatively new startup and this is their first foray into Canada, with 750 bikes and 80 stations destined for Hamilton.
The presentation to council confirmed that $1.6 million in Metrolinx Quick Wins funding was used to buy all the equipment and Social Bicycle would be taking care of everything else — all liability, insurance, operating cash, wages, etc., they say will come from membership sales, user fees, sponsorships and advertising revenue.
After exchanging emails with an executive of the company, I get the feeling they are flying by the seat of their pants based on demographic information that does not fit the profile of those citizens downtown who would be able to afford a membership and pay the fees of five or six dollars per hour after the first free hour.
More telling is the area defined for the bike-share — all downtown and a little of Dundas.
Nothing above the escarpment, despite Mohawk College and hospitals galore.
My fear is that Hamilton will have another non-profit that will be coming to council for a handout when their venture fails to meet membership and revenue generation projections.