TreeHuggers from all over Canada are sending us photos of their local Bixi bicycle rental system. We've had a man-on-the-street report from Montreal, and now one from Canada's capital city, Ottawa.
The Canadian Bixi system seems to be the operation of choice for several new cities offering pay as you go bike rentals. In Ottawa it is being introduced on a short term basis. Initially it is being tried out from June to September, prime tourist season in Ottawa. There are only 50 bicycles and 4 stations. The first half hour is free and you can use your credit card to pay.
The bicycle has a wire basket for carrying laptops, handbags, groceries which is a handy feature. The bike is pretty solid, with 3 gears. That lets you use it for errands or a nice pedal along the pathways and canals at a reasonable pace. There is a bell and flashing lights, but no helmets are available.
Image from alcopop.wordpress
Coming soon: the same Bixi system is being introduced in London, England next year in partnership with an existing company. It will have 6,000 bikes, 400 stations and 10,000 bike stands, each one situated around 300 metres from the next. Given the size of London and the necessity for co-ordination between the different city councils, it should be a challenge to get this going smoothly. Transport for London predicts that each bike will be used by about ten different people each day, and think that most of the users will be bus and train passengers, not people switching from cars to bicycles.
They have also won the contract for Boston which will have a network of 2,500 bikes, 290 stations and 3,750 docking points, with the potential to expand to a 5,000-bike system.