I was in Montreal recently and used the city’s bike sharing program. Please tell me Toronto is getting something similar.
For the uninitiated, Montreal’s excellent bike share program, which kicked into high gear this year, is called Bixi. It’s a municipal public transit service, invented in Quebec, that links 400 solar-powered rental stations and an armada of 5,000 two-wheelers. By swiping a credit card, riders can un-dock a bike at point A and re-dock at point B, with an interactive map of docking stations accessible by cellphone. The first half-hour of freewheeling is free for subscribers (more non-committal cyclists pay a $5 access fee), followed by a charge of $1.50 for the next half-hour, $3 for the next and so on. And unlike the infamous single-speed yellow beaters from Toronto’s previous bike share experiment, Bixi’s sturdy aluminum cycles are designed for heavy urban use. The operation is gaining traction among pedal-positive municipal planners globally: this summer, the people from Bixi snagged contracts with Boston and London (England). As for Toronto, if all goes as planned, we’ll be whistling Bixi by May, with full implementation downtown by summer 2010. Current plans call for approximately 3,000 bikes and 450 docking stations, with monthly subscriptions around $28. The city is also looking at selling ad space to defray a hefty $15-million startup cost, rather than shifting the cost onto taxpayers, which ought to reduce fuming on multiple fronts.
• Question from Elise Alexander, St. Clair West