Bixi, c’est ici!
The first big bike-sharing scheme in Canada has started in Montreal:
Three-thousand bikes are available for short-term rental around Montreal’s downtown core.
The bikes, which cost $2,000 apiece, are made of aluminum and are theft-proof, according to their designers.
Some 300 stations have been set up to store and pick up bikes.
I wonder if Montreal is the first because of the success of Vélib in Paris. Would Toronto be first if it had started in London?
For the story of Vélib, see Price Tags 101.
In one respect, Bixi beats Vélib, notably because of the theft problems in Paris:
The bikes contain a GPS chip, and if rented and not returned will “slow down, and the brakes will lock automatically,” explained Julian Joseph, a Montreal high school student who’s part of a team hired by the city to repair the bike fleet.
The New York Times gives Bixi some extensive coverage, with this interesting note:
André Lavallée, the municipal politician who championed the Bixi, said that the advertising opportunities are more limited in Montreal, while city ownership allowed greater coordination with the city’s bus and subway system.
It was at Mr. Lavallée’s suggestion that the development and operation of Bixi be turned over to the city’s parking authority. While that seems an unlikely choice, he reasoned that it already has the real estate and the infrastructure needed for a bicycle sharing system.
Vancouver has a parking authority too – EasyPark – which, though somewhat more autonomous, might be a candidate for operating a similar system. Worth looking at.