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.
Please send it to the list below plus your local councillor (get the email from this list).
City Hall Contacts:
- Joe Pennachetti – City Manager
- Mayor David Miller
- Adrien Heaps – Councillor Ward 35 + Cycling Committee Chair
- Daniel Egan – Manager, Cycling Infrastructure
- Adam Giambrone – Councillor Ward 18
- Gord Perks – Councillor Ward 14
- Joe Pantalone – Councillor Ward 19
- Joe Mihevc – Councillor Ward 21
- Glenn De Baeremaeker – Councillor Ward 38
- Pam McConnell – Councillor Ward 28