September 27, 2020

TMadrianBY TONY MCLELLAN

Two years ago, the men and women of The Working Centre had an idea. They wanted to create a transportation program that was not only affordable and reliable, but also easy to use and understand. The result was the Community Access Bikeshare (CAB), a community-driven program that features quick and simple access to sturdy bicycles in the downtown core area.

“I think there’s a lot of interest in this idea of sustainable transportation,” said Adrian Underhill, one of the organizers of the CAB program. “The goal is really just to give people access to a bicycle.”

When it was launched as a pilot program in 2011, the program had a small yet dedicated 54-member group, whose constant use of the small number of bikes owned by the program helped get it mainstream attention.

“There’s been a lot of support coming out of the pilot project, as well as positive feedback from our members regarding things they’d like to see,” Underhill said. “We took that information and really funnelled it into the launch that happened this year, which is a slightly bigger project of up to 60 to 90 bikes, and we’re hoping to increase the capacity of the 10 to 12 already existing stations for next year’s launch in April.”

The process of becoming a part of the CAB program is simple and straight-forward, with no credit card necessary. You can purchase a membership online or in person for $40. The membership lasts from the beginning of April to the end of November and includes a meeting with the co-ordinators of CAB, in which the new member is provided with a set of rules and benefits that come with being a full member of the program. After this initiation, the new member will receive a personal membership card, which is used for accessing a key box located near the various CAB locations. The key that is taken will be the one that is used for the corresponding bike, as well as the lock that comes with the bike itself.

While CAB is starting to become more recognized as a reliable and popular program throughout the community at large, Underhill said he and his co-workers plan to take expansion and development at a moderate pace.

“We want to grow the system slowly, listen to feedback from members and really build it incrementally in a way that will set it up for many, many years to come.”

While he said that the group is mostly focusing on developing stations around the downtown Kitchener core, he hopes to expand the reach of the stations throughout K-W in time. He said they are trying to take the various bikeshare programs offered in larger cities such as Toronto and Montreal and adapt them to a small-town setting, especially one that has such a large student population.

Underhill is also interested in helping student groups from local campuses start up community bikeshare projects of their own, as a part of CAB or as an independent group.

You can contact CAB at 519-743-1151, ext. 172, or by email at bikeshare@theworkingcentre.org. You can also visit them at 58 Queen St. S., Kitchener, Monday to Thursday, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.