On a rainy day, the only thing worse than lugging an umbrella around is being caught without one. Now a Canadian startup has the solution, by way of the bike-share model of on-the-go pickups and drop-offs. Earlier this month, UmbraCity teamed up with the University of British Columbia to offer free umbrella rentals on campus—just in time for Vancouver’s rainy season.
The process is simple: Sign up at one of UmbraCity’s four automated kiosks by using your email address and credit card or student ID. Scan your card to pick up an umbrella and get going. If you return the umbrella within 48 hours, it’s completely free; after that, you’ll be charged $2 a day up to the maximum of $20, at which point you’ve bought it. If your rental breaks, simply report it, return it to a kiosk, and UmbraCity will recycle it for you.
The bright yellow umbrellas are designed to withstand strong winds, enhance pedestrian visibility, and function as eye-popping advertisements at the same time. UmbraCity hopes to expand to greater Vancouver in the coming year, with other cities to follow.
Sure, umbrella rentals might seem a little silly compared to, say, trying to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and urban congestion by promoting a cycling culture. But next time you find yourself caught in a downpour, desperate enough to buy another throwaway drugstore umbrella, you might wish you could get your hands on a sturdy rental instead.