Bicycle sharing the way to go …

Bike sharing in Barcelona

Toronto City Council has made a deal with a Montreal company to provide a bike share service for Torontonians. Bike sharing is a good idea – whose time had come a long time ago.  You will find bike rentals and sharing in European cities. I was recently in Beijeng and noted that bikes and bike rentals play a major role in moving people around the city.

What follows is a summary from the National Post.

“City councillors yesterday approved Toronto’s first bike-share program. Staff were grilled on the deal, which faced some opposition, but in the end Bixi Toronto sailed through in a 33-to-8 vote. It is scheduled to kick off next May, provided the operator can sign 1,000 subscribers by November and secure $600,000 in sponsorship. Natalie Alcoba takes a look at the system.

The Program
Bixi Toronto is a bike share program designed to be “an extension of public transit.” The plan will launch with 1,000 bikes in the downtown core. The Public Bike System Company, which is a spinoff of Montreal’s parking authority, is spending $4.8-million to start the program, and about $1.3-million every year to keep it running. The city is acting as a guarantor for a loan, so if the company defaults on a payment, the city is on the hook. The city will also be responsible for replacing bicycles and stations that are damaged or stolen, in excess of 6% of the fleet. Profits will be split 50/50 between the city and the company, which in effect means that half of the earnings will flow back to the city of Montreal.

How it works
Regular users buy a membership for anywhere from one month to one year, which gives them around-the-clock access to the bikes. There is no additional fee if you keep your trip to under 30 minutes. A rental fee is usually charged for trips that are longer than 30 minutes, or for unregistered users, such as tourists. You have to have a credit card to use the system because, staff explained yesterday, there has to be a record of the user.

The wheels
The Bixi system uses a “rugged, vandal-resistant” aluminum bike and is parked at a modular bicycle docking station powered by solar energy. The stations are connected electronically to a call centre that is monitoring all bike activity in real time. Since some stations are sure to be more popular than others at certain times, the bikes will need to be redistributed throughout the day. A mobile service crew is supposed to visit every station and bicycle on a regular basis.

Opposition
Various councillors expressed concerns that the city was exposing itself to financial risk by guaranteeing a loan, while others suggested the venture be left to the private sector. Councillor Michael Feldman (York Centre) feels the Toronto Parking Authority could come up with a better deal, noting that half the profits will be going to a company that is owned by Montreal’s parking authority. In the end, Mr. Feldman settled for having the current deal proceed while the Toronto Parking Authority is consulted on its interest.

National Post

4 thoughts on “Bicycle sharing the way to go …

  1. Pingback: Bike lanes narrowly defeated – how the councillors voted « Vote John Richardson – Independent Judgment For Toronto Danforth – Ward 29!

  2. Pingback: Ward 29 Bikes – Commute to city hall May 31 « Vote John Richardson – Independent Judgment For Toronto Danforth – Ward 29!

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