Wednesday, May 4, 2011

BIXI Is Here!

I'm so excited to announce that I took my first BIXI bike on a test run today! The new public bike sharing system launched in Toronto on Tuesday (if this is the first you're hearing of it, read up on it here and here).

Last night I was going to attend a volunteer training session downtown at 6:30 pm. Before I left work, I checked the BIXI Toronto website to see where the closest bike station was to my destination. Apparently it had four bikes available. By the time I got there, all were gone! But, as a testament to how brilliantly this system was designed, the sun-powered bike station console showed that the next nearest station was just up the road! That's the one pictured above.

My friend Hwan, proud owner of a full-year membership, swiped his BIXI key (like a security pass to an office building, only much smaller) at the docking point holding one of the bikes, waited for the light to turn green, then pulled out this black cruiser. Hwan easily and quickly adjusted the seat for his height, and off he went so I could snap some action shots! And yes, that stylish hat is actually a bike helmet, though the law does not require cyclists to wear them, so BIXI doesn't provide any.

I took a spin, too, though I was quite unprepared in my heels and dress! Then again, the step-through frame design made that no issue. The bike - a cruiser as I mentioned above - was a little heavy but offered a smooth ride nonetheless. The extra weight is attributable to the additional metal on the frame that hides the gears and brake cables to reduce weathering; a pretty obvious feature when you remember that these bikes will be sitting outside all year round!

I'm so happy this bike share came to Toronto. Not only that, but I'm also very proud of my fellow Montrealers for developing their own system and doing such a great job that they can now bring it to other cities around the world. Mayor Ford, if you're reading: this is what helps make Toronto a world-class city (not getting an NFL team).

Your turn: if this system was in place where you live, would you use it? If you like it, what's appealing about it? If you don't, what's not working for you?


  1. Bixi is coming to Boston this summer too!

  2. That's great news! Wow, this bike share system is spreading like wildfire.

  3. I was wondering if it was coming to Boston-thanks for letting me know Sabrina. What an amazing system. I love your friends helmet-where can I get one? The dress and heels are adorable....guessing you didn't get very far. Thanks for the interesting post Andrea.

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  5. Hi groovygreenlivin,
    The helmet is a Yakkay, which I purchased from Curbside Cycle ( on Bloor West. I am embarrassed to talk about that thing because it cost me a kingly sum.

  6. Haha, Bloor West is a little remote... because Lori lives in the Boston area! But thanks for the info, Hwan.

    To be honest, I would have been happy on that bike, heels and all, but Hwan and I had that training session to attend (even so we got there late and had to stand for an hour).

  7. I love this! Yay for alternative, healthy transportation!

    I like this Bixi system because I've read that other bike-share programs fail because all of the bikes are eventually stolen. $95 seems expensive, but is probably very affordable in a big city, especially if there is a bicycle theft problem. Do you know if any of the other Bixi programs out there are publicly funded?

  8. Hi Emily. In Montreal, where BIXI was created, they've had very little vandalism or theft because, as someone from the Toronto team explained it to me, people feel a sense of ownership and pride for the system and the bikes. I really hope it's the same for us here in Toronto.

    As for the $95 cost, that's $26 less than a monthly transit pass, but for the whole year. It's also about the same you'd be spending on a spring bike tune-up in the city. Think also about not having to spend money on flats or other repairs! Seen that way, it's remarkably affordable.

    Hm, I'm not sure if the other BIXI programs are publicly funded. I'm guessing they are because the programs are meant to be exact replicas of each other.

  9. Put another way, Bixi is about $8 a month compared to $120 for a Toronto transit pass. It's not a perfect comparison, but gives an idea of the great value you're getting!

    A related story: After an overly long lunch, I lent a friend usage of a bicycle so that they wouldn't be too late for work. Bixi: Saving people from missing post-lunch meetings!

    Ok, I could go on and on about Bixi, but I'll leave with this little promo video they recently released on how the system works:
    Andrea, you'll recognize the station as the one we tried but was empty.

  10. Thanks for posting the link to the video! It really shows how quick and convenient it is to take out a bike.

    Also, great story about helping people out with your membership. Back when I used to work in the downtown core and craved burritos from a little place about 20 minutes away on foot, I'd have to take over an hour to make the round trip (waiting in line to order, then waiting for the burrito to be cooked, took up a good half hour). A BIXI bike would have cut a good 25 minutes out of that trip!