Toronto's Bixi may be in jeopardy

Bixi, Montreal's successful bikesharing system, is catching on like wildfire and will be expanding to Minneapolis, Melbourne, Boston and even London, UK, this year. But Toronto seems unconvinced, and it appears as if city bureaucrats are close to derailing it.

City Manager bureaucrats seem not to understand the point of bikesharing and, from what I've heard from sources, that they don't see how it would work. An acquaintance has heard from City Manager number crunchers that they don't see Bixi as viable and thought it was waste of money (I'm paraphrasing here). The City Manager's office at City Hall is key to organizing city services and has the ear of council. According to the website, it "guides the Corporation of the City of Toronto and advises Council in the management of all its fiscal, organizational and service challenges. The City Manager is accountable to Council for the policy direction and program delivery of divisions."

This same acquaintance, who is also an avid cyclist, attempted to show how, in fact, Bixi has worked elsewhere and thought it would work here. My other source shows that this attempt may not have been all that successful. The City Manager's office might not be getting behind bikesharing. If they manage to derail it this year, it may take some time for the bureaucracy to get around to doing it again.

So, how is it that so many cities around the world can operate bikesharing programs, but Toronto bureaucrats can't understand if it would work or not? Toronto city leaders are asleep at the wheel, opines Joe Berridge at the Toronto Star. "Paris introduced the Velolibre [sic] free bicycle system, now being copied in some form in almost every big city. But not Toronto."

City staff have kept tight lips on the details so I'm not really sure why Bixi is in jeopardy. In theory the deal was supposed to be at no cost to the city.

It would have been nice if they could have involved the community a lot more in the planning. In the days of CBN's Bikeshare there's was broad support by businesses and organizations, both small and large. Perhaps they could have avoided some of this pain. It's not too late.

Send letters in support of Bixi

I Bike T.O. and The Urban Country encourage you to send letters to your councillors and city staff to encourage them to keep going with Bixi. Here is a draft letter:

Dear Mayor Miller,

It has come to my attention that the City of Toronto is considering putting a halt on its deal with the Public Bike System Company (BIXI) to bring a public bicycle sharing program to Toronto later this year.

This would be an extremely disappointing and unfortunate outcome. Traffic congestion, pollution and obesity are major issues that we need to deal with right now as the City of Toronto’s population is expected to increase by 500,000 people by 2031.

Bicycle sharing is important in our city to provide a alternative means of transportation for short trips while helping people stay healthy. A bike sharing system would complement public transit very well and I had every intention on using this system on a regular basis.

Please do everything in your power to ensure the city makes the right choice for its citizens and proceeds with signing a deal to bring BIXI to Toronto in 2010.

Sincerely

Please send it to the list below plus your local councillor (get the email from this list).

City Hall Contacts:

  • Joe Pennachetti – City Manager
    jpennac@toronto.ca
  • Mayor David Miller
    mayor_miller@toronto.ca
  • Adrien Heaps – Councillor Ward 35 + Cycling Committee Chair
    councillor_heaps@toronto.ca
  • Daniel Egan – Manager, Cycling Infrastructure
    degan@toronto.ca
  • Adam Giambrone – Councillor Ward 18
    councillor_giambrone@toronto.ca
  • Gord Perks – Councillor Ward 14
    councillor_perks@toronto.ca
  • Joe Pantalone – Councillor Ward 19
    councillor_pantalone@toronto.ca
  • Joe Mihevc – Councillor Ward 21
    councillor_mihevc@toronto.ca
  • Glenn De Baeremaeker – Councillor Ward 38
    councillor_debaeremaeker@toronto.ca
  • Pam McConnell – Councillor Ward 28
    councillor_mcconnell@toronto.ca

Comments

I've got a few calls in and will report back with any additional info that I can find to confirm or refute this unfortunate news...

Hi all, and Yvonne,

Great opportunity to book meetings with all these Councillors, staff, and schedule a press conference.

At the same time, perhaps some resourceful cyclists in the community could crunch the numbers and come up with projections for just how wildly successful a Bike share program would be for the City. Make it a business proposition an investor would seriously consider if the Return on investment hit the financial bottom line in the black, as well has having a double or triple bottom line to boot.

Brian

"Traffic congestion, pollution and obesity are major issues that we need to deal with right now as the City of Toronto’s population is expected to increase by 3 million people by 2031."

The City of Toronto is only expected to grow by 490,000 people by 2031. It is the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area that is expected to grow by 2.81 million in that time. The distinction is important if you're e-mailing the City of Toronto's council and staff.

Thanks Fact check for pointing out my typo. I have corrected my article, and Herb can update this post. As you mentioned the GTA is expected to grow by ~3 million by 2031, and the City of Toronto is expected to grow to 3 million by 2031 (increase of ~500,000).

Here is the PDF I originally pulled these numbers from: http://www.toronto.ca/demographics/pdf/profile_tor_bulleti...

Perhaps the city is right about having cold feet... after all the war on cars, the negative sentiment drummed up against bicycles in regard to red lights and all this in addition to all the shocking string of cyclist deaths i would say the general opinion on the feasibility of cycling took a huge hit. Not to mention Toronto's motorists know how cyclists are treated since they are dishing out the treatment... i can see why some of them are reluctant to try cycling around let alone crossing the street.

To the poster who asked us to make the case for the city, that is just plain lazy. If the city employees cannot rub two sticks together to get something done and instead expect the private capitalist to come forward and provide services for the public... well then what the hell do we need the city for, fire them all. The only thing missing here is political will, NOT a rock solid case study.

If advocates simply blow too hard on the spark leading to this recent increase in cycling they will simply extinguish it. Maybe Toronto isn't ready, we are certainly nowhere near Montreal in terms of bicycle infrastructure and local sentiment is still largely against cycling.

Too good to be true, I thought. Never mind every city of any size and culture in N.America is reclaiming parts of the city from cars: Toronto which once led the battle against freeways and destruction of streetcars is not not even following the pack, much less leading it.

Let's see - the day this post appears, we get the news of c. $9,000,000,000 operating budget, and lots of increases for somethings, and yet no real hits for some big spenders like the TTC and police.
Hmm, while those were capital tax dollars, the St. Clair project was about twice its initial budget and no benefit to bikes, in fact arguably more dangerous. The cops - hmm - they do fight many bad guys, and they do exist, and there's dangers with the job, but how much of their time is spent on carimes and picking up pieces from the cartillery.
So if the bulk of the bureaucarats and some politicians want to have a program gone, don't get it any money, or starve it, and the more serious implication of such a fate for the Bixi may be to take out a leg or two from the push for a reworking the City core for better biking to support this Bixi program, though we don't truly know what is coming down, or being proposed, and they keep missing obvious parts of Bloor.
At times, I've had darker thoughts about letting some civil servants go and redirecting their salaries towards such better things as Bixi - but if that's too unpopular, and not PC, then let's push the tolls on the Gardiner and the DVP instead if we need money for it.
We do need to have an effective program of bikesharing, and the infrastructure to adequately support it - so ensure any letters to people also express support for "roadical" changes in our core to accompany this program, in fact, do the changes in advance!

St. Jane is lucky not to have to see what this city's becoming.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Jacobs

I would tend to agree with dances_with_traffic above. Although a successful bike-sharing program would be hugely beneficial to the city down the road, I still dont see how this could be feasible at this point in time. The fact that Montreal's Bixi was a resounding success does not mean that it would work now in Toronto. Montreal has a much more extended bike lane network in the downtown core which makes it safe to just pick up a bike, ride it for 30 minutes and drop it off even if you dont have a helmet with you. In addition, Montreal drivers and pedestrians have been used for many more years to dealing with a large contingent of cyclists and as a result, the environment is much more conducive to a bike sharing program. Toronto simply does not compare (leaving aside the fact that comparison to European cities like Lyon, Paris or Barcelona are even more ridiculous). At this point in time, it seems to me that it is completely unrealistic to imagine someone picking up a bike at say King and Bay and dropping it off at say Yonge and Bloor. Cycling downtown will remain on the fringe until proper biking infrastructure is developed (i.e. bike lanes.).

I say this as an avid cyclist who wishes to see one day a bike sharing program implemented in Toronto. But in the near term, I think the focus of the city should be in implementing its bike plan. Once we have a half-decent bike lane network, we should consider a bike sharing program.

If the Bike Share program gets dumped it would be a prolific culmination of the poorly informed making bad decisions.

'jg', you want all of the infrastructure in before unleashing the masses on Bixi bikes. Never happens that way. In public expenditure, supply follows demand... well that's true in any venue. In N. American thinking, Tokyo has terrible bike infrastructure (few lanes, etc.); yet a far higher percentage of people ride, and feel safer doing so in streets far more crowded with motorized traffic. The safety of bike lanes are negligible, since they do nothing for the most common accident zone: intersections. Everyone knows more cyclists make cycling safer.

As far as I'm concerned bike lanes are only important because they make people FEEL safer, not because they actually make people safer. Or rather, they do actually make people safer indirectly, because they encourage more people to ride, and the more people riding, the safer it is to ride.

Since a good bixi program would undoubtedly increase the number of cyclists, it would:
a) increase safety all by itself
b) provide the political base to create bikelane infrastructure which, unlike bixi, actually costs taxpayers something (albeit not much)

I can't believe there's even the slightest doubt about this program.

When I lived in Montreal 6 years ago, it was dangerous to even walk around, much less ride a bike. Bixi and bike lanes come together, not one after the other.

As a Declared Candidate running for Toronto City Council in 2010, and as a cyclist, I support implementing the Bixi program here in Toronto.

Taking full note of the concerns of JG and similar feelings elsewhere in the blogosphere and without diminishing their concerns, if this matter was before me in City Council, I would strongly lean towards voting in favour of funding it and supporting Bixi.

http://twitter.com/HiMYSYeD/status/9296131765

HiMY SYeD

The future success of Toronto is dependent on a burgeoning creative class; a group that rides bikes and sees little value in automobile ownership. It's troubling to see important decisions like Bixi in the hands of bureaucrats.

Why can't we have more bicycle facilities? The people who live and work in Toronto deserve to enjoy the city, it's their home. We waste millions keeping the Gardner Expressway open for commuters who do not pay for its up keep and then complain about traffic congestion and driving in the city, as though we would be better off if it resembled some high speed suburban nightmare. Enough!

Let's make's make Toronto a better place and elect those who get it.

I have this subtle suspicion that the rumor/leak/etc. is actually a side-effect of difficult negotiations between BIXI and the City. Of course even if true (and it's only a suspicion, after all--though informed by some of the stories about earlier Paris/JCDecaux negotiations), I don't see that being a reason not to write in as suggested.

I just included an apology in my letter in case I was responding to such a side-effect, and also an assurance that I'm not connected with BIXI.

I hadn't thought of it, but that sounds like a rather reasonable suspicion.

Maybe we're being manipulated by the corporate interest in the situation. It's hard to know what to do when caught in an uninformed position like this...

Bixi's a private venture. It wouldn't be a municipal or community initiative.

Look, if we couldn't/wouldn't keep Bikeshare going, how can we expect Bixi to work here?

The current model that is working well in Montreal and many other cities is different from the former Bikeshare concept in lots of ways - it would work in Toronto. The lack of improvements to our Bike Network in the city core is the only thing I am concerned about.

I would love to see the Bixi program in Toronto, not because I will be using it (I am a commuter with too many bikes already), but to get more bikes on the road.

The reality is, without a more bicycle friendly infrastructure (wider roads, bike lanes, roads that have not been bastardized by construction), the system will not work as well as planned.

The casual user, to whom the system will most likely be marketed towards, is not going to feel safe on the roads that exist today.

If we want to get more people out on bikes, we need more bike friendly streets. Even something as simple as sharrows/chevrons on the roads would do a world of wonder for the bike-curious.

But it would be a municipal initiative. Bixi is a non-profit corporation owned by Montreal's parking authority, which is in turn owned by the City of Montreal. It is not a "venture"; neither are there any shares.

Why would we expect Bixi to work here? Because programs like Velib work in Paris; Bixi works in Montreal; and soon 4+ cities will be running Bixi.

That's part of the problem, Toronto's Bixi won't be owned by Toronto's parking authority and they can't expect cooperation with them to just happen.
I don't see the numbers will make it work without help from the city, I wish they had talked this through last year instead of springing a surprise on us.
It's a cheap program that can make a difference in getting cyclists on the road, I'd use it even though I have a good bike because it's often a problem securing it or I may want to leave it overnight if I'm drunk or the weather is bad.

The future success of Toronto is dependent on a burgeoning creative class; a group that rides bikes and sees little value in automobile ownership. It's troubling to see important decisions like Bixi in the hands of bureaucrats.

I am not quite sure what you mean by a "burgeoning creative class", but that phrase evokes visions of the unemployed, ironic hat-and-moustache crowd in my mind.

I would have thought that the future success of Toronto, at least from a bicycle infrastructure perspective, would depend on getting more square worker bees on bikes.

The "burgeoning creative class" are Golgafrinshams like that @$$, Florida. I care about people who do something valuable for society, not fey dead-weight.

I have three bikes, but I would use it enough on short rides to pay my $80y fee. Why? Because once I take it form one dock to another I don't lose anything to bike theft.

Bixi promised the city a no-cost bike share plan but they are now looking to suck money from a nearly bankrupt city. Bike sharing is a great idea and would benefit the city but not at any cost. I am pleased to see council might have actually learned something from the food cart debacle.

There are private companies ready to bid on a no-cost bike share plan. Toronto should not be funding a program like this when private investors are willing to assume the financial risk. If Bixi won't live up the promises they made then its time to give private investors a look.

and surveillance systems in place where the bixi lots would have been... That would be great... and i would pay a monthly fee if the lots were convenient enough. Tired of lugging around 10lbs of locks.

Aside from getting hit by a car, theft is probably the next main thing people are afraid of in the city.

I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you? Save me from my burden of kryptonite.

My understanding was that the contract was all but inked in a deal with Astral Media. The ad company was to supply all of the money and "street furniture" to get the program up & running as long as they retained the exclusive rights to advertisment.

This better not fall off the table because the city is getting greedy (either directly or by way of a third party), because that would be inexcusable.

Hi all,

With all due respect to the opinions and perspectives aired here, I am quite surprised and perplexed at the amount of speculation being put forth. Do any of you work for the City or Astral or Bixi!? So who are you to comment without all the facts at hand (and I include myself, for I don't know much about the details of the BikeShare program either). I don't mean to insult, but is this ibiketo or CNN!?

I havn't seen or heard any of you (except Herb and Anthony) at TCAC meetings, where the Public can depute to the committee and have their opinions and input heard, or at least included on the public record. I understand some of you may not believe in that Committee, or its effect; but to at least attempt direct communication with your elected representatives is a good thing, no?

My own opinion, respectfully, and I have written this to my Councillor, is that bike education needs to be rolled out around all Recreation Centres before anything else. The perception barriers must be broken down. Bike Sharing is a noble and interesting intention (I have used Bixi in MTL and Velov in Lyon), but my feeling is that Toronto simply isn't ready for it. Far too many people percieve barriers like inability and safety concerns, to take part in cycling. Very much part of the perception and behavior shift that I often speak of.

Please forgive me if my opinions and perspectives offend, or come across as contrary to popular opinion. I only wish for positive progress, forward.

Brian

It's funny. Many of the comments I have seen posted on message boards in regards to this issue over the past few days have mirrored a sentiment I have felt for over two years now:

Why did the municipality(be it the bureaucracy or council) not engage the public more about this issue when planning such a massive and important project?

I am not sure there is a simple answer to that question, but let me lay out something for everyone, so they understand whats happening with Bixi, and why a road block has been hit.

Public Bicycle Systems Company is owned entirely by the Montreal Parking Authority. The Montreal Parking Authority is owned by the Municipality of Montreal. Much like Toronto, Montreal has many financial woes, and the 23 million dollars they have invested so far into the venture is significant.

Toronto was only willing to adopt "Bixi" if PBS Company was able to initiate the service with minimal assistance from the municipality. This minimal assistance was not to go beyond the allotment of land(such as sidewalk or parking space) for Bixi stations to go. The thinking was that generally speaking Bike Share systems generate significant revenue, that will hopefully pay for all the capital investment. PBS Company obviously was not able to round up the 11-15 million dollars necessary to open a Toronto Bike Share system. As Montreal is financially stressed as well, it would be very politically unpalatable for a politician there to make a motion to spend such a significant investment for a service in ANOTHER MUNICIPALITY. Toronto is so stressed financially, that we did not intend to afford this through tax dollars. We expected to give the winning bidder the premium space with a premium arrangement, but no funds(which from a business perspective is a FANTASTIC deal). Our City Managers office thinks this project is not the best idea, so they are not willing to support the idea of finding 15 million for a capital investment loan. The irony in all of this is that for Bixi to have qualified to even enter the bidding process, they had to claim they were able to take care of the financial requirements, without assistance. That means one of two things has likely happened:

  1. PBS Company had the intention of procuring the capital requirements without the help of Toronto tax dollars. The recession to a stronger hold than expected, and PBS Company did not generate the necessary revenue prior to the initiation of the Toronto Public Bicycles Project, and as a result came to Transportation Services, asking for some help to find the capital requirements.
  2. PBS Company never had the intention of providing the necessary capital requirements. It was counting on it's political connections which already helped it snag sole access to the bid. These political connections have obviously fallen through, and are now making a strong effort to lobby in favor of the Toronto City Council agreeing to make a 15 million dollar bridge loan.

It is technically a serious breach of policy for City Hall to give Bixi the funding that Toronto's bike lobby is calling for them to provide. It goes against the tender that the City released, and if Council was to seriously consider Bixi a funding priority, it would be in there best legal interest to reopen the competitive bidding process, and then move forward to fund the winning contractor.

Let's keep our integrity and do what's right.

I would like to see the bidding process reopened, so that a COMPETITIVE bid can occur, which has yet to happen for this project. I would like to see transportation services show us as citizens our options, much like the TTC did when they chose new streetcars. If not, I would like to see the City's bureaucrats get out of the way, and let the free market take care of this service.

What makes anyone think that if our bureaucrats can't handle running a ski hill well, that bureaucrats from Canada's supposedly most corrupt municipal government will be able to run a massive public bicycle system for us here in Toronto?

An article for your thoughts:

http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/toronto/archive/2...

Sincerely,

Matias Marin
CEO Public Nature Corporation
publicnature@gmail.com

PS Public Nature was the only other company to submit an Expression Of Interest for the Toronto Public Bicycles Project. We were not allowed to enter the competitive bidding process, for reasons, that still elude us, and had little to do with our ability to deliver. I encourage anyone interested in this issue to look more deeply into it, and not just believe the talking points being thrown out by a variety of interest groups.

Hi all,

Now THAT is the kind of business talk that this community should be engaging in.

Some very interesting points.

Brian

It's @$$#@+$ like you that stop people like me joining advocacy groups. There's always someone pumped up with his own righteousness to say something like:

"Do any of you work for the City or Astral or Bixi!? So who are you to comment... I havn't (sic) seen or heard any of you... at TCAC meetings."

For every one of you there, you lose a few dozen potential allies.

That seems very counter-intuitive. If there is someone at a TCAC meeting who is spouting ideas and opinions you don't agree with, it would be in your BEST interest to show up and make YOUR views heard. If an individual chooses not to do so, how can they blame others for the perceived failures? We all need to show up to TCAC meeting's and speak openly and honestly about pressing issues. If not we need to make those views directly available for consumption for our elected officials and the bureaucrats who initiate mandated directives.. Let's not blame others, and let's all take our individual responsibility. The freedoms left in the society we live in give us the ability to have tremendous levels of productive input. So let's make that input positive.

-Matias

My point may not have been clear enough, 'Matais Marin', it is the 'righteous' who refuse to give the floor, as it were, to any other ideas who make the rest of us unconvinced that such vehicles are a way to get our ideas heard. I can go there and kick against the pricks all I want, but I have better things to do with that energy than throw it away in the face of a zealot. The reasonable people in advocacy groups have to isolate the nutters or else the reasonable people will isolate ourselves right out of your group.

Exactly which advocacy group does Brian speak for? I cannot even think of what group that would support the ideas he has put forward. You could prove me wrong though.

Hi James, Darren,

I would be willing to meet you face to face, in person, at the City View Cafe, ground floor, City Hall, Monday February 22, 2010, at 1 pm. Seat yourself in the window at one of the bar stools, and I'll come meet you.

Otherwise, please don't attack me, it's not civil, or representative of the cycling community, and I personally don't appreciate it.

As a teacher, servant, and passionate advocate, I am open, willing, and receptive to all new ideas, and want to hear other peoples thoughts and perspectives, and then help them get heard and included in all levels of society and government.

You will find that when you get to know me, I am one of the nicest people you'll meet, and the word "righteous" dosn't even come close to describing me, so please don't.

Sincerely,
Brian

There is no attack Brian. Just a simple question. James implied you represented an advocacy group therefore he has not interest in joining any. I just want to know which one you belong to or more precisely which one he claims you belong to. I added that I could not think of any group that would support the ideas you put forth, most specifically related to this thread,

"...but my feeling is that Toronto simply isn't ready for it. Far too many people percieve barriers like inability and safety concerns, to take part in cycling..."

I also indicated I could be wrong.

Good for Brian to suggest a face to face discussion instead of a limited blog-debate.

I think it is critically important to keep people engaged in the interest of furthering cycling in Toronto; we just need to develop the capacity to learn from each other, in my experience that is more likely to happen over a cup of coffee than a computer keyboard.

I have little to no interest in meeting Brian to discuss cycling. With the exception of what he writes, he may very well be a "nice" person that he claims. I have nothing to counter that and it even is not an issue.

Restricting this to what he posts and not to his person in general. I find the "information" alarming, lacking compassion and in the tone of "father knows best". The assumptions, assertions and "facts" he relies on are typically groundless.

It's easy to criticize from the sidelines, Matias.

From what I understand, your corporation (which seems to still be just an ephemeral ghost without even a URL, website or proper email address) didn't meet the basic requirements of the Expression of Interest. You dreamed up an unworkable idea of paying for the whole system by using people as "batteries", by having us bike around charging up the bikes and offloading it into the grid. Your vision seemed to work the exact opposite of electric bikes, which are supposed to make moving around easier not more difficult.

Bixi is being launched in 4 cities this year. We know it works in Montreal. You'd have to be nuts to think that Toronto would seriously consider your "people as batteries" crazy-scientist scheme over an actually, existing program.

Dear Herb,

I do hope you filed a FOIA request in order to read our Expression of Interest. Otherwise what you just said is total heresay. First of all, Public Nature Corporation does have financial backers. We are keeping our intellectual property fairly close to our chests for the simple reason that its a new market, and we have great ideas we don't taken away from us. Our intention was not to use people as batteries at all. Our idea surrounds the idea of REGENERATIVE BREAKING, since large amounts of energy are lost when you hit the brakes on a bike. This will enable our bikes to do two things, charge a battery, and provide power to an OPTIONAL electrical assist. I encourage you to look further into this, and recognize that PNC isn't the only company doing this. CityRyde, the biggest American company working on Bike Share innovation showcased a similar idea on their site, which is already in prototype form.
http://www.cityryde.com/blog/bike-sharing-that-creates-tra...

The Electrical assist is optional, so a municipality can opt out, the recovered energy is then used to just supply the staion with some of it's energy needs. I am not sure how you think our product intends to pay for itself through using people as batteries, as thats totally incorrect. If you feel like discussing this in person, and having me educate you on our idea(which by the way, Michael Singer Studio is our indsrial design partner) I would be GLAD to. We have many reputable partners(former head of advanced research at intel, former materials reseacher for Magna and more). And just remember, that PBS Company said they could finance this themselves. Obviously they have fallen through on that mark. Does that not concern you?

I guess my participation in lobbying the city for this since 2005 really puts me at the sidelines. I had a strong interest in this long before Public Nature. I don't care who the winning bidder is. I care that the City engages the public on this issue, and I also care that the City follows the well developed tendering policies it has developed for itself.

Feel free to give me a call Herb, I would love to constructively discuss this with you

Sincerely,

Matias

6474481623

I just heard of a similar concept to the one that Matias is describing.

Locating a central distribution of wind up bikes at the base of the windmill at Exhibition Place, the power of the turning blades is harnessed and transferred to a set of spring coils located around the rear hub of specially designed bikes. Once the maximum potential energy is "wound" into the bike, it is released to power riders effortlessly through the city.

This is from a group named, aptly named Spin Cycle, here is an excerpt from the article:

"We are all set to 'spring' Toronto into the future", said CEO Frank Cranks. Cranks apparently got the idea when he placed a hockey card in his bike spokes on his 8th birthday. " I guess you could say I owe it all to Mike Palmateer", jokes Cranks. Cranks previous endeavours include the opening of the Slinky Museum in Winnipeg.

It looks like the jig is up Matais. The Red Pill people have exposed the dasterdly piezoelectric plot to turn unsuspecting cyclists into a Copper Top servants.

That was a very entertaining if not delusional post Herb. Are you on Bixi's payroll?

No, I didn't need a FOI request because you explained the basic concept of "people as batteries" to us last July .

As you said last year:

Yes, electric bikes will cost more in terms of start up cost, but this will pay off! When the users put their bike back into the parking spot, the 4 kg nickel battery will send precious power back into the city grid.

So it appears that when you say "assist" you actually mean "assisting Toronto Hydro" rather than providing assistance for cyclists to go faster with an electric assist.

I just shake my head over both your idea, and that of the student project posted on Cityryde. Both are unrealistic and have high expectations that people are going to generate lots of electricity. Hence, my comment of "people as batteries", which, yes, is an intentional reference to the Matrix.

If you're looking at using people as batteries, be upfront and honest.
Fill the Skydome with 20,000 stationary bikes and pay us to generate electricity.

Herb, your facts are crude and incorrect at best.

I have never mentioned a 4KG battery. My engineering team is challenged with using a proprietary Electro Vaya battery that weighs less than 750 grams. The simple reason for this is that these are not electric bikes per se. They are bikes which recover lost energy in the process of braking. They have the added benefit of having an optional Smart Electrical Assist at best. This assist is both optional to the user of the service, or the commissioner of the service(a Municipality as an example). If the interest group commissioning the service does not wish to have an Electrical Assist, the energy is recycled into the grid. Otherwise, only auxiliary energy is pumped into the grid from the bikes, leaving at least enough energy to propel the bike for 8 km with the Smart Electrical Assist on. At worst, recovered energy that would have been lost and is emissions free will be recycled into our grid. This doesn't 'help' Toronto Hydro per se, it helps offset our overall dependence on auxiliary stations which operate when the grid is under strain, and produce harmful emissions. Since the bicycles will be used most during warm weather, it is likely that a fair amount of energy will be recycled into the grid, when those auxiliary stations are operating at their peak, helping offset these dangerous pollutants.

I do understand the apprehension you have to electric bikes, I don't however understand your position on our innovation. You would be best advised to get your facts straight. I am not sure who you got your facts from, but they greatly misinformed you. As well, the article you wrote, that you reference in this comment, has a quote from a newspaper where they detail the electrical assist I explained to the National Post in an interview. Let me remind you as well, any recovered energy would help offset the cost of yearly passes, reducing them by 10-20 dollars depending on the jurisdiction and its weather and transportation factors.

Does my wish for our municipal government to act based on the policy directives it gives itself make you feel uncomfortable?

At Public Nature Corporation, we see the importance in innovating in a new industry like this. Bixi has innovated and prevented a significant amount of the problems that Velib encountered. Now we at PNC feel it's time to go beyond, see what other economic, social, and environmental challenges we can help break past with a Public Bicycle System.

Sincerely,

Matias Marin

CEO, Public Nature Corporation
publicnature@gmail.com

I merely quoted Matias Marin, though I suppose it's possible that the quote was by someone pretending to be your. All I know is that someone calling their self Matias Marin, made claims similar to yours.

Battery weight aside, your basic concept seems to be the same: help defray the cost of the program by selling electricity back to the grid. That key idea, I and others find unrealistic and presume that people would be happy to generate electricity on the bikes and not use it themselves to get up hills faster. I'm quite happy with electric assist, it's just that I have the reasonable expectation that the heavy contraption is there to give me a push.

And you can't have it both ways: either people will want to use an assist up hills, or you'll take it all to help cover your costs or make a profit.

And that's all aside from the unrealistic belief that Toronto is so full of hills and so many cyclists going downhill that you'll see significant revenue.

It's possible, but unlikely I'm wrong. The real Mr. Marin hasn't done anything to prove otherwise that it's physically, financially, and socially feasible. And I suppose that since you want to keep it a secret, we might never find out.

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