When I first heard about the Boston-based startup BIKES, it seemed like an odd fit for a city where I spent a lot of time biking and running, and was planning to try out a new mode of transportation.
But once I got a chance to ride on one of the first bikes in Boston, I was instantly hooked.
It’s the first bike sharing program in the country that offers a fully autonomous, bike-sharing-style ride.
It allows riders to leave their bikes at their stations, and they can even take them home and park them wherever they want.
It’s like having a chauffeur who drives you around, says Brian LeBlanc, CEO of BIKEPOST, which describes itself as the only ride-sharing program in Canada.
There are currently about 100,000 BIKE stations in the U.S. and Canada, and BIKECOM is working to expand its reach to all 50 states.
But what makes the bike-share program special is that it’s the only one that offers ride-hailing, not just for those who want to bike-rent or just for commuting.
This, LeBlancos says, will make BIKEWAY an even bigger player.
“It’s a much bigger market than just the U-Bahn or the Greyhound system,” he says.
“Bike-sharing is going to become more popular in Canada than in the United States, and I think it’s going to go way beyond just bikes.”
That’s because in addition to offering rides for bike enthusiasts, BIKEDAY also offers a full range of services like bike rental and delivery.
That’s not just useful for commuters, it’s also a big business for the companies that lease out bikes.
“What it does is it gives you access to a range of bikes that have been rented out,” says David Wylie, executive director of Bike Boston, which is part of Bikes to Change Boston.
“It provides an easy way to get into that space.”
While BIKETX, another BIKELAY, has been a success in the past, there’s still a lot left to be done, says LeBlanch.
“We’re going to see more and more rides going to bike sharing stations, because the number of people who want the opportunity to ride the bike has grown over the last couple of years,” he said.
“I think it will be the first of many cities that we see this.”
Read more about bike sharing and sharing bikes in the Globe and Mail’s Bike and Driver series.