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Electric bicycles will return to the streets of Quebec City on May 1 as part of the Ville de Québec active mobility strategy.

The àVélo electric bike sharing project, overseen by the Réseau du transport de la Capitale (RTC) was first rolled out last summer, with 10 downtown pickup stations and 100 bikes; this year, the network will include 40 stations, spread throughout the city, and 400 bikes. The bikes will be available until Oct. 31. By 2024, the city aims to have 1,000 bikes in circulation and 100 stations.

Mayor Bruno Marchand made the announcement earlier this month. Documents made public after the announcement said the administration also planned to renovate or extend 14 existing pedestrian and bike paths around the city, improve all-season bike path maintenance and publish its first active mobility strategy by the end of June.

Coun. Pierre-Luc Lachance, member of the city executive committee responsible for transport, mobility and traffic, said demand for active transport options such as walking and biking paths “has exploded in the past two years.

“During the [pandemic] lockdowns, walking and biking were some of the only safe activities available to people to maintain their physical and mental health. Running and bike supply stores were overwhelmed with demand, and a lot of cities made bold choices to favour active mobility,” Lachance said. He added that 50 kilometres of city bike paths were accessible year-round, and the city aimed to increase that to 100 kilometres by 2025.

Coun. Maude Mercier Larouche, member of the executive committee and president of the RTC, said emphasizing walking and biking options allowed citizens to contribute to the fight against climate change while staying in shape.

Last year, an estimated 5,000 riders used the bike sharing service, making an estimated 29,000 trips. “That experience showed us that there was a lot of demand and enthusiasm for this service,” Mercier Larouche said, adding that electric bikes made the city’s famously hilly terrain more accessible for casual cyclists, seniors and those who wanted to try biking to work.

“We want to have a portfolio of mobility options in Quebec City,” noted Mercier Larouche, emphasizing the importance of connecting the tramway and the bus service with bike and pedestrian paths. Lachance added that the administration aimed to consider “the mobility of people, not just of cars.”

The city has already completed an initial round of public consultations for the active mobility strategy, but a second round is coming. Mercier Larouche said people interested in making their voices heard could contact Lachance, their city councillor or their neighbourhood council. Lachance and Mercier Larouche emphasized that emails or other messages received in English would be read and considered.

Those interested in trying the àVélo system can reserve bikes through a mobile app or online at avelo.rtcquebec.ca. A credit card is required to reserve a bike. The minimum age to rent a bike is 14, and riders aged 14-17 must have a motor scooter licence or a driver’s licence to rent a bike. All riders must wear a safety helmet. Bikes will be available from May 1 to Oct. 31.

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