Bikesharing coming soon
I was just about to call the City to find out what happened, when I found out that bikesharing is coming to Toronto, again. Toronto is looking for a partner to offer a bikesharing system by next year. The Request for Expressions Of Interest (REOI) was put out late last week to find companies interested in creating a system of 3000 public bikes.
I'm quite impressed with the thought that's gone into the requirements. They seem to have carefully studied other systems such as Paris' Velib and Montreal's Bixi. There will be "secure, automated self-serve parking stations" that can be easily moved. Members will use smart cards to get bikes, which they can take out for free for the first half hour. After that members pay. The bikes will be sturdy, with racks, at least three gears, and locked up at the stations located every 200 to 300m in the urban area bounded by Parkside, Broadview, Dupont and Lake Ontario. There will not be any advertising in the "public right of way". After the first year the system may be expanded to other parts of the city.
It appears that Astral Media has rejected the first offer to provide a public bike system supported through advertising. Astral Media was supposedly offered a first right of refusal because the understanding was that the public bikes were street furniture which required advertising.
After Bikeshare closed down 3 years ago, there's been talk of re-starting bikesharing, including a forum that invited various public bike providers, and a visit from Bixi to show off their bikes. By being one of the presenters at the forum, I figure that only a handful of companies can meet the requirements, including JCDecaux, SmartBikes and Bixi. I bet that Bixi will have a definite head-start, since Montreal's system is already designed to deal with North American weather and Toronto's requirement that it be self-funded through membership fees.
I think the City is finally taking serious the idea of bikes as public transportation.