Toronto To Get Bixi Bike System; Will It Get Strangled At Birth?

toronto bixi bike image

Like American cities, Toronto is taxed-starved to the point that a couple of years ago it couldn't find $75K to save its community yellow bike system. But its gotta be, as a former mayor used to say, "World Class", so if Paris and London and Montreal have bike share systems, so does Toronto. It is bringing Montreal's Bixi system to town, or a small portion thereof. Since Toronto can't even pay for civic amenities like garbage cans and bus shelters, let alone bike share systems, it will be sponsored, in this case by the Dutch bank ING, because of course, the Dutch know bikes.

david miller bixi bike announcement photo

crooked photo of David Miller (the only one I could find at IbkeTo)

Outgoing Mayor David Miller made the announcement yesterday, saying "This partnership is another example of how we are making Toronto a more green and liveable city", while the head of ING said Public bike systems like BIXI can significantly reduce the cost of commuting and make a healthy impact on our cities and our lives." Both lovely statements, but unfortunately there are a few obstacles to be surmounted.

bixi bike map toronto image

The press release states the obvious to anyone who looks at this map and knows Toronto:

The program generally operates more like an extension of the public transit system than like a bicycle rental system. The bicycles are intended to be used for one-way trips of less than 30 minutes and can be picked up or dropped off at any station, 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week.

In fact, according to Google maps, the Bikeshare zone is 2.9 km, about 1.8 miles, from top to bottom, a 38 minute walk. Nobody is going to be using this for a commute. The two north/south subway lines are both within the zone, so nobody is going to take transit into this zone and switch to a bike. They talk about expanding the system, but is there the political will? Listen to the leading candidate for Mayor in the upcoming October election.

The other candidates are not a whole lot better, as they try to outdo each other to pander to suburban voters. Herb writes in IbikeTO, in a post nicely titled Major mayoral candidates are douches to cyclists

The fact is, Mayoral Candidate Rob Ford is just not as suave as George Smitherman or candidate Rocco Rossi, though their basic stance is the same: take cyclists off the streets.

Smitherman, in his transportation plan, for instance, claims (unlike uncouth Ford) that he "supports Toronto cyclists and will make it easier for Torontonians to choose safe cycling". In order to that he will "rethink" the cycling plan. Then the first thing he will do is indefinitely postpone / cancel all bike lanes on arterial roads.

There is no political will among the leading candidates to spend two cents on bikes or biking; the suburban voters consider it a "war on cars" and they are in the majority. The Bixi zone is too small to be really useful, and with these guys running the city it will never get any bigger.

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