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. An aerial photo of downtown Miami.
    Life

    The Fastest-Growing U.S. Cities Aren’t What You Think

    Looking at the population and job growth of large cities proper, rather than their metro areas, uncovers some surprises.

  2. Smoke from the fires hangs over Brazil.
    Environment

    Why the Amazon Is on Fire

    The rash of wildfires now consuming the Amazon rainforest can be blamed on a host of human factors, from climate change to deforestation to Brazilian politics.

  3. Graduates react near the end of commencement exercises at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, U.S.
    Life

    Where Do College Grads Live? The Top and Bottom U.S. Cities

    Even though superstar hubs top the list of the most educated cities, other cities are growing their share at a much faster rate.

  4. a map of London Uber driver James Farrar's trip data.
    Transportation

    For Ride-Hailing Drivers, Data Is Power

    Uber drivers in Europe and the U.S. are fighting for access to their personal data. Whoever wins the lawsuit could get to reframe the terms of the gig economy.

  5. A row of empty pews in an abandoned church.
    Design

    America’s Epidemic of Empty Churches

    Between 6,000 and 10,000 churches die in the U.S. every year, and many are sitting on prime real estate.

×