Bixi public bike program is weak on membership numbers—so far

Bixi public bike program is weak on membership numbers—so far

Oddly, Torontonians are not too eager to put shared equipment between their legs (Image: yawper) 

Like Montreal and Paris, Toronto is becoming a bike-sharing city. With sponsorship from ING Direct, the city is hoping to sign up 1,000 members at just under $100 a pop before Novemeber, or the plan is going to fall apart. In the first two weeks of the membership drive, though, the city has signed up fewer than 400 people. The CBC reports that the sign-up has been less than was hoped for:

So far, the program has only registered 375 memberships, a number that is “discouraging,” given Toronto’s 2.5 million residents, said Rose Malcolm of the city’s cycling infrastructure department in an email.

David Windle, who uses his bicycle regularly, is balking at the $95 annual membership fee. The fee is too high, he said, especially as a bicycle can be purchased for just a little more.

“If it’s up in place and you see how this works, then you may want to jump on it but for now — like wow.”

Like wow indeed. There’s also the fact that Bixi was rolled out halfway through the summer, when many cyclists had already laid out money for spring tune-ups and new bikes. If Bixi had been rolled out in the spring, the city might have had a faster uptake.

It’s not November yet, so there’s still time to round up another 600 or so members. (Dan Egan from the city says he’s “fairly confident” they will.) It’s not a terrible deal—especially if you don’t want to worry about theft or maintenance—but perhaps the city had been hoping to win something by more than the skin of its teeth for once.

• Toronto Bixi bike-share response lukewarm [CBC News]
Bixi Toronto Needs You! [Bixi]