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

Vicky Gan

Vicky Gan is a former editorial fellow at CityLab.

Most Popular

  1. Postcards showing the Woodner when it used to be a luxury apartment-hotel in the '50s and '60s, from the collection of John DeFerrari
    Equity

    The Neighborhood Inside a Building

    D.C.’s massive Woodner apartment building has lived many lives—from fancy hotel to one of the last bastions of affordable housing in a gentrifying neighborhood. Now, it’s on the brink of another change.

  2. Design

    The Military Declares War on Sprawl

    The Pentagon thinks better designed, more walkable bases can help curb obesity and improve troops’ fitness.

  3. Equity

    What CityLab Looks Like Now

    Bigger images, fewer ads—and a recommitment to telling a very important story.

  4. Life

    It's Time to Meet the Neighbors

    CityLab is spending a week talking about the folks next door.

  5. Infrastructure

    Vienna Makes Peace With Its Trash

    The famously clean Austrian city boasts one of the world’s most innovative waste processing systems.