The farm panel on CBC's noon program (one of the most popular segments on this otherwise quite urban station: go figure) over the last few weeks has talked about bringing cows and sheep inside for the winter: it will be too cold here for them to spend much of their time outside for the next three or four months. But it's not only livestock that needs protection from winter. This morning, as the first appreciable snow lingered on the lawns, I noticed that the last of Bixis had also been gathered in.
More than a million rides were taken on the new bike share/rental system since it began in earnest last spring. Despite some problems at the beginning it seems to have been a huge success. The disappearance of Bixis from the streets doesn't mean that bike traffic has stopped in Montreal though. Despite the slipperiness there were many cyclists when I was out earlier. Now I must go remove the icy snow from the front steps: I kept thinking yesterday it would all melt, but it didn't. Must get myself in winter mode too. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
When a taxi driver complains about Bixis cutting back on clients you’ve got something that is more than just a gadget.
The big question for me when the Bixi, Montreal’s bike share program, was rolled out last spring was: who would use them?Bike riding has grown around here in the last few years, as more bike paths have been constructed on busy streets. Bike traffic is even approaching a critical mass on some side streets. Everybody who might want to ride a bike already has one, right?
No. The locals have figured out how to use the bikes for short strips across town which is what was intended. “It’s real competition for the short trips,” a cabbie told me last week.
They cost $5 a day or $78 a season.Then you can ride for 30 minutes without cost. Fees increase rapidly if you don’t return the bike too one of the stands: the second half hour costs $1.50, the third, $3, and $6 for subsequent half hours.The idea, of course, is not to compete with standard tourist bike rentals, but to provide bikes for short trips, the way Vélib does in Paris.
The latest figures show 8,419 subscribers, 77,070 occasional users, 278 installed stations for a total of 3,612,799 kilometers travelled.Initially there were complaints about vandalism to the Bixi stations and a certain amount of lack of coordination in transferring the bikes around (a key element is making sure the bikes are where the people wanting them are which means some trucking the around town.)But I haven’t heard complaints the last few weeks, and certainly it’s clear that the bikes at the station in the next block are being used.
The Bixi folks are hoping to sell the bike system around the world: London and Boston have just signed on, while Bixis got a try-out in Manhattan and Los Angeles a few days ago.That the system, developed where sane folks don’t ride bikes from mid-November until the end of March, is getting such a welcome in more temperate climes seems to me quite remarkable.
Mid-November, by the way, is what the cabbie is waiting for.“Then business will pick up, “ he said.
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Mary Soderstrom is a Montreal-based writer of fiction and non-fiction. Her new collection of short stories, Desire Lines: Stories of Love and Geography, will be published by Oberon Press in November, … more
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BIXI is a public bicycle sharing system launched in May 2009 in Montreal. The system provides 3,000 bicycles and 300 stations located around Montreal's central core. Phase 2, increasing the actual system to 5,000 bicycles and 400 stations, will be launched this summer. BIXI has also been introduced in a pilot study in Ottawa/Gatineau from June to September 2009.
On August 12, 2009, the city of Montréal announced contracts to export Bixi to the cities of London and Boston.
The mayor of London announced today the granting of a contract to set up a public bike system project. The mandate was given to the London-based group Serco, in association with BIXI. The project foresees creating a network of 6,000 bikes, 400 docking stations and 10,000 docking points that will be in service by 2010. The system in London will adapt Montréal’s system in order to respond to the specific needs of the city of London.
As well, BIXI has been granted the mandate to set up and operate a BIXI system in central Boston as well as the right to negotiate to expand the system to neighbouring municipalities. Central Boston will be served by a network that includes 2,500 bikes, 290 stations and 3,750 docking points , with the potential to expand to a 5,000-bike system