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?