Ottawa Gets a Bixi Bicycle Rental Going

ottawa rental photo

Photo: D. Langer

Congratulations and bienvenue, Canada's capital city is joining the club and re-introducing a bicycle rental scheme. They are using Bixi, the bicycles used in Montreal, London and Toronto.

Ottawa first introduced the rental scheme in 2009 as a pilot project for the summer. Now they will have 10 stations and 100 bicycles. Not huge, but it's a start...

telus bixi photo

Photo: D. Langer

They are calling it Capital Bixi which has a pleasant ring to it, unlike the Barclay's Cycle Hire in London, named after the sponsor. Ottawa's is partnering with Telus.

As in other systems, the first half hour is free and you can use your credit card to pay. They are offering an annual rate of $78 which is the same as Montreal's but cheaper than Toronto ($95). Of course there are far fewer stations and bicycles than either of the other two cities. The system will be in use from May to November, which is optimistic given the cold and snowy winters that Ottawa suffers.

The National Capital Commission, who run the federal lands in Ottawa, initially envisioned 50 stations (and 500 bikes) but had to scale the number back to 10 stations and 100 bikes because the cities of Ottawa and Gatineau had already finalized their budgets for the year. Hopefully next year the municipalities can all work together to make it a bigger and more cohesive network.

The city of Ottawa is spending its money on creating separate fixed-barrier bike lanes, which will make cycling safer.

There are complaints that it is tourist-oriented, not really commuter-oriented because of the locations of the stations. It will get you across downtown, from downtown to the popular Bywater market, or from downtown to a few government buildings in Gatineau.

chateau laurier photo

Photo: D. Langer

For a bike sharing program like the Bixi to work, many stations are required. It won't serve as an alternative to cars or buses for people living outside a small central area of the city.

By contrast, in central Montreal, there are stations every two blocks. Montreal has 5,000 bicycles--it has a bigger population than Ottawa and has invested heavily in their scheme. Toronto's new scheme has 1,000 bicycles and London has 6,000.

More on Bicycle Rental Schemes
Ottawa , London and Boston to Use Canadian Bixi System for Bicycle Rentals
Montreal has Bixi and a Great Bike Lane System
London's New Bicycle Rental Has Canadian Content
Bixis Get Bashed In Toronto

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