Whoever thought green initiatives wouldn’t be cool for urbanites never met BIXI!
Just over a month ago, the City of Montreal launched BIXI, North America’s first public bike system. It was part of the city’s overall object to improve public transport and reduce the amount of vehicles on the road.
BIXIwas positioned as an alternative to taxis (hence the name – BIke taXI). The system is ingenious. With over 300 BIXI spots throughout Montreal, BIXI stands can be found at approximately every 300 meters and you can pick up and drop off at any available dock.
Montrealers can get a subscription for $78/yr and a swipe a magnetic key to easily remove a bike 24hrs/day. The first 30 mins are free then every additional 30 min period is $1.50 billed to your account. However, you don’t need a subscription to use them, you can use your credit card and for a maximum of $5, use it for 24hrs. It’s also a perfect way for tourists to sight see in Montreal along the many bike paths available.
So who do you think BIXI would interest? If your answer is David Suzuki wannabees, think again. BIXI has taken off like wildfire amongst the business community and urbanites everywhere. I can’t walk 5 mins anywhere without seeing people on them.
In fact, it was my friend Wayne, a big-shot finance guy who introduced me to them. He can’t stop talking about BIXI and waving his magnetic keyring around to everyone. Not only is it convenient for him to get around town, but he has dramatically cut down on using his car for errands, thus decreasing his carbon footprint.
After a 5 à 7 one night (Montreal after-work cocktail) Wayne showed me and his friend Jason, a commercial lawyer, how it worked. Apparently, Jason texted him the next day to tell him he rode home on one and ended up getting a membership online the next morning. He now uses it to get to work. Awesome!
As for me, I have to say I still wasn’t convinced about getting one for myself. I thought, if I’d want to bike somewhere, I would just buy a second-hand bike and not pay a subscription fee.
So this past weekend, I thought I would take advantage of the gorgeous sun and check it out with a friend of mine. We ended up biking 35km across Montreal’s famous bike-network and had a blast. The cool part is, whenever we would want to stop, we could always find a BIXI stand and drop them off. If we got to tired, we could always metro home.
And talk about convenience, BIXI’s website is easily accessible from smart phones, so we could log on from my iPhone and in real-time, find the nearest location of bike docks to drop them off.
I have to say I’m impressed. Besides the sore ass after a 5hr ride, they do make sense. The beauty of BIXI compared to a personal bike is you don’t have to worry about it getting stolen, carrying it up your stairs or maintenance.
I’m also impressed with Montreal’s commitment to public transport - with BIXI, Communauto (car sharing) and the metro, one rarely needs a car here. Montreal is making a great effort at reducing its carbon footprint and in a fun and fashionable way!
By the way, the BIXIconcept is piloting a project in Ottawa and Gatineau and is apparently showing them to the City of Vancouver. Let’s hope the West Coast gets hooked on this fabulous phenomenon too.
Happy urban biking.