UmbraCity

A very neighborly Canadian solution for that out-of-nowhere downpour.

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.

(UmbraCity)

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.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Transportation

    Beverly Hills Has Financed Its Metro Fight With $13 Million In Local Taxes

    Instead of reconstructing aging school facilities, the district is using a voter-backed ballot measure to pay for a legal campaign against a subway extension.

  2. An Uber pick-up location in downtown Houston in 2017.
    Transportation

    Is Uber the Enemy or Ally of Public Transit?

    Depends on the city, and the transit agency.

  3. A vacant home on Milwaukee's north side.
    Equity

    Can Milwaukee Really Create 10,000 Affordable Homes?

    The city has an ambitious plan to fix its housing woes. But so far, most of development has been focused on the city’s downtown area.

  4. Life

    How Manhattan Became a Rich Ghost Town

    New York’s empty storefronts are a dark omen for the future of cities.

  5. Transportation

    Why Public Transportation Works Better Outside the U.S.

    The widespread failure of American mass transit is usually blamed on cheap gas and suburban sprawl. But the full story of why other countries succeed is more complicated.