[World Streets] The best public bike system in the world?
- The best public bike system in the world?
Adam Cooper, Canadian, on why Canada's BiXi is the best public bike system
in the world
Watch out world, the city of Montreal is on the move: this time powered by
pedals. The second largest city in Canada is now home to North America's
largest bike sharing program. The BIXI system (Bicycle + Taxi) is Canada's
first attempt at large scale bike sharing and from my initial experiences; I
will say it is extremely well done, maybe even the best in the world.
Beginning in the summer of 2008, Stationnement de Montreal, the City's
parking authority, was mandated to design, build, operate and maintain a
bike sharing system, by the Montreal City Council. Less than one year later
(May 12, 2009) the BIXI program was up and running. Operated by a non-profit
company (the Public Bike System Co.), BIXI provides 3000 Canadian designed
and manufactured bicycles at 300 stations located across the core of
There is no doubt that the BIXI system is a pioneer and that Montreal has
raised the bar on bike sharing. BIXI utilizes the latest in technological
advances to improve on bicycle sharing systems found around the world,
featuring; wireless data transfers, solar powered docking stations and a
touch screen interface based on the parking authority's highly reliable pay
terminals. BIXI bikes are fully aluminum and very comfortable to ride,
featuring; integrated LED lighting in the frame, an internalized chain,
adjustable seat height and proprietary parts to reduce the risk of theft.
Additionally, BIXI engineers believe they have developed a better locking
mechanism than exists on the market today, addressing many of the concerns
currently coming out of Velib in Paris.
Not only do these advanced technologies make the system appealing in terms
of their sustainability aspects, they also reduce the cost of installation;
no data or power connections are required, meaning stations can be placed
anywhere in the city and be up and running in approximately 30 minutes. This
adds tremendous value to the BIXI system when comparing against existing
bike share systems which require construction crews to dig up the street.
This one change presents a real value for the BIXI system, as construction
of stations in other programs such as Velib, can take up to one month.
Further adding to the BIXI appeal is the mobility and scalability of the
system. The stations are modular, operating on a "plug and play" style of
connection, with many options for station configuration (the only thing they
can't do is perfect circles). What this means is that program operators can
adjust the location and capacity of the stations after the program has
launched. The system can be reconfigured for large public events and
stations not functioning at their maximum utility can be expanded or
contracted to meet the supply and demand constraints.
Although BIXI is still in its infancy, there is no doubt in my mind that
this technology will be exported to other cities in Canada and around the
world. For the current BIXI subscribers this adds further value to the $78
annual membership fee, as their BIXI key will allow them access any BIXI
system worldwide. The attempt by the Public Bike System Co. is to build a
community around bike sharing where members can access BIXI in any city they
travel to. Further adding to the community aspect of the technology is the
fact that users can log into a website and track the number of kilometers
they have travelled, the amount of gasoline they have saved and the amount
of CO2 they have offset by choosing to cycle
If any of this sounds interesting to you, then get a hold of BIXI who will
deliver the system, scaled to your needs in a turnkey fashion. The not for
profit nature of the company means they are willing to work side by side
with your community to develop a bike sharing system that fits your needs.
Finally, public bicycles are actually public. The option to deliver a high
quality 3rd (4th?) generation public bicycle system to your community, free
from advertising and corporate interests finally exists. Vive la velorution!
- Adam is an M.A. Planning Candidate and Research Assistant at the TREK
Program Centre of the University of British Colombia. He is working on a
thesis on public bikes and is participating in the World Eyes on the Street
peer network and watchout.
Posted By Eric Britton to World
rld.html> Streets at 7/03/2009 10:04:00 AM
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