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June 27

Take it. Ride it. Pass it along.

Vancity launches first Lower Mainland-wide bike sharing experiment

June 27, 2007, Vancouver, BC – Vancity launched a bike sharing experiment today, releasing 45 new bikes onto the streets of Vancouver, with the invitation for people to take them, ride them, and pass them along.

The experiment was launched at the BEST (Better Environmentally Sound Transportation) pancake breakfast, held each year to wrap up Bike Month activities.

The Vancity Bike Share was inspired by programs in cities such as Amsterdam, Paris, Helsinki, Portland, and, closer to home, a student-run program out of UBC. It’s also seen as a new and different way to set Vancity apart and make a statement about its values.

The goal of the program is to challenge people to think about – and talk about – how they get around, and promote the personal and environmental benefits of cycling.

The experiment is part of Vancity’s new brand campaign and brings to life the campaign tagline “we all profit”.

"We were looking for a fresh way to tell our story and promote our values," says Kari Grist, Vancity’s Vice-president of Marketing. "This is an experiment. We wanted to try something different – put an idea out there and see where the community can take it."

Ellen Pekeles, Vancity’s VP of Community Leadership, says the program is a perfect fit for Vancity’s focus on offering staff and communities ways to promote alternative transit and fight climate change.

"We realize that 45 bikes aren’t going to change the world," she says, "but if it gets some people talking; if it gets people trying something that could benefit their health and the environment, then we all profit, don’t we?"

The program is being managed through, a popular social networking website hosted by Vancity and driven by the Vancouver online community. Participants are expected to use the funky, new bright red cruiser bikes for three weeks before passing them on through the site or to someone they know.

Ultimately, the bikes will be returned to Vancity then donated to PEDAL (Pedal Energy Development Alternatives), a local non-profit that promotes pedal-powered technology. Pedal will refurbish the bikes and donate them back to the community.

To minimize theft and resale, riders will get locks, and the bikes have been registered with the Vancouver Police Department’s ‘Operation Provident’. A helmet is provided and to promote bike safety, participants are encouraged to sign up for a free Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition’s commuter cycling skills course.

"BEST is actively working on creating a Bike Share program, and is delighted with the potential of the Vancity experiment to get people excited about the many ways that these can be designed," says Margaret Mahan, the Executive Director of BEST.

"The Vancity Bike Share is a great opportunity for people to find out how easy it is to get around by cycling," remarks John Fair, President of the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition. "The experiment will also get bikes in the hands of people who might not otherwise have access."

Vancity has a long history of promoting the benefits of alternative transit, including cycling. Employees have access to bike lockers and showers, as well as a fleet of cruiser bikes at head office. For the past decade, staff members have overwhelmingly participated in the Commuter Challenge that encourages people to leave their cars at home and find environmentally friendly ways to get to the office. Over the years, Vancity has distributed many grants to organizations that promote cycling and alternative transit, including BEST. In 2001, BEST was the recipient of the first $1-million Vancity Award for its leisure trail that will go from Vancouver to New Westminster scheduled for completion in 2008.

Vancity is Canada's largest credit union, with $12.3 billion in assets, more than 360,000 members, and 50 branches throughout Greater Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Victoria and Squamish. Vancity owns Citizens Bank of Canada, serving members across the country by telephone, ATM, and the Internet. Both Vancity and Citizens Bank are guided by a commitment to driving positive change, and to improve the quality of life in the communities where we live and work.