VeloGO bike-share service not returning to Ottawa this summer

Stock photo used for representational purposes only.

A major bike-share service’s sudden decision to pull out of the Ottawa-Gatineau market is “unfortunate” but won’t have a significant impact on the city’s tourism industry, a local official said Monday.

VeloGO Canada tweeted Friday night that it won’t be offering its bikes to riders in the National Capital Region this year, ending five years of service in Ottawa and Gatineau.

“Because our contract with the NCC has expired, we will not be returning this season,” the tweet said. “We are sad to miss out on our favourite time of the year, but this is not goodbye. We hope to see you next year!”

Ottawa Tourism spokeswoman Jantine Van Kregten said in an email on Monday that VeloGO’s loss, while "unfortunate," is “mitigated” by the presence of other businesses that offer guided bicycle tours in additional to rentals.

“I think the impact may be more keenly felt by locals who used VeloGO for short impromptu trips rather than tourism purposes,” she said.

CycleHop, VeloGO’s Miami-based parent company, did not respond to requests for comment on Monday.

VeloGO had been operating a 300-bike fleet in Ottawa and Gatineau since the summer of 2015. In 2014, the NCC agreed to give the company free access to 25 docking stations on NCC property for five years. 

In an email to OBJ, NCC spokesman Jean Wolff said Monday that the agency gave CycleHop notice last fall that the five-year period was coming to an end and would not be extended. He said the NCC tried unsuccessfully to contact the company’s principals this spring, adding that officials from the cities of Ottawa and Gatineau told the agency they were also unable to get a hold of anyone at CycleHop.

The service allowed users to rent bikes using an app connected to GPS and drop them off at various locations in Ottawa and Gatineau.