Loans help expand Bixi business to more cities worldwide: Bixi

There's been a lot of negative press the last while about the Public Bicycle System Company and the recent deal with the City of Montreal. It wasn't just rant radio outlets like Newstalk 1010 (which invited a rant radio host from Montreal to rant about the deal) but even the CBC was calling it a "bailout". The Montreal Gazette had a hate-on for Bixi and attempted to make it seem like a huge scandal. La Presse was a bit more sympathetic. Many forgot that the large car companies - GM and Chrysler - needed government intervention into the "free market" to keep them from failing. Those billions of dollars could have been used profitably for any number of uses that actually benefit society, environmentally and socially. People also forget that our society subsidizes cars with billions for highways, healthcare costs and environmental costs while providing next to no money for cycling, pedestrians or transit.

Winners of the Best Video about BIXI Toronto Contest

Back in September I posted about our unofficial contest to see if we could get some better videos about BIXI Toronto - how it works, how to use the, and why you should get a membership. (Again, this contest was just I Bike TO's attempt to see if citizens could produce something interesting and informative videos and it was in no way an official contest of BIXI).

The contest ended yesterday and a small group of BIXI fans got together, viewed and judged the videos. We felt that the following two videos were both pretty good and it was hard to choose between them, but we did our duty.

Drum roll....

For first prize I present the short and sweet Bonjour Bixi video by Luca de Franco. The group felt that Luca's video was to the point and brought the message across with a great song. Luca will receive a Bell helmet from Hoopdriver Bicycles and a $50 gift certificate from Mountain Equipment Co-op.


And for second prize I present Ms. Lulu's BIXI Toronto Needs You, an informative video on BIXI featuring the BIXI team describing the benefits and demonstrating the system mixed in with some cuts of BIXI in Montreal. Thank you Lulu! Lulu will receive a $50 gift certificate from Mountain Equipment Co-op.

Thank you everyone who submitted videos! And thank you to Hoopdriver Bicycles and Mountain Equipment Co-op for providing the prizes. Please patronize these great stores, particularly your local independent bike shop!

Soon to see the lion on BIXI Toronto bikes: ING DIRECT announced as primary sponsor

ING Direct Canada's lion will appear on the BIXI Toronto bikes next spring, as they've signed on as the primary sponsor of the bikesharing program. Mayor Miller and Public Bike System Company reps announced ING this morning.

“Public bike systems like BIXI can significantly reduce the cost of commuting and make a healthy impact on our cities and our lives,” said Peter Aceto, President and CEO of ING DIRECT Canada. “We are always excited to help Canadians save their money so being a part of bringing BIXI to the Toronto community is a great fit for ING DIRECT.”

No word on what percentage of the sponsorship needed is being provided by ING, though I was assured it was a substantial proportion. BIXI Toronto is required to raise $600,000 for each of the next three years.

In related news, ING Direct has also sponsored the custom painted, Toronto Cyclists Union bike giveaway. Is it a coincidence that this Dutch company is supporting cycling in a big way?

Businesses can now sponsor BIXI stations and memberships for employees

I noticed the BIXI Toronto site has a lot more info now. For instance, they are offering a corporate program where employers can provide gift certificates to their employees. They've also provided some details on how someone can sponsor a station. I've been told that the going rate for a station is about $20,000, in case you're interested.

Where employers provide auto parking, sponsoring a station or memberships for their employees is a win-win. Doling out $95 a year is a lot less than what a car parking spot costs. Heck, instead of building a parking spot a business could probably buy 2000 BIXI memberships (give or take; just look at High Cost of Free Parking by Dr. Donald Shoup for confirmation). Just think of how much money they'll save (even if we amortized the parking spot over 10 years at $2000 a year, though I don't really have a good idea of the yearly costs).

Some things to know about BIXI

From the Open FIle, here are seven things Torontonians need to know about BIXI and how it works in Montreal:

  1. It's about frequent short trips, hence the pricing. Toronto fees are expected to be the same or similar to Montreal's, where subscriptions cost $78 for one year, $28 for one month and $5 for one day. After that, there are usage fees to consider. The first 30 minutes of every ride is free. After that, the next 30 minutes cost $1.50. The following half hour costs $3. And every subsequent half hour sets you back $6. But very few users ever reach that point. Bixi is not for sightseeing. It's for getting from Point A to Point B. A survey shows half of Montreal users jump on Bixis to get to and from work or school. Some are taking lunchtime jaunts or using Bixi to meet friends across town or as an alternative to the bus when they get off the subway.
  2. You might not be able to return your bike at the first self-serve docking station you visit. It might be full. Don't panic. You'll be given 15 minutes of free time to reach another one. And stations are on average only 300 metres apart. A smart phone will help; you can check bike-dock availability online. In Montreal, this summer, some stations are filling up so quickly on weekday mornings that three "depot stations" were opened where commuters can hand bikes over to Bixi employees without the need to bother with a docking station.

BIXI shows off at their Bash - over 100 members already!

Photo frrom lodoe-laura.

Pedestrian and blogTO writer, Annia, took the BIXI bikes for a spin last night at the BIXI Bash at Gladstone Hotel. As a person who doesn't cycle her perspective is interesting, because she is a representative user in the demographic that BIXI is targeting: those who don't bike but will start biking more regularly when it is dead simple.

My BIXI bike and I got off to a shaky start, which is a testament to how long it's been since I've mounted one of these things and not to the build quality of the bike itself, which I admit is rather sturdy. I bungee-strapped my bag onto the front rack, adjusted the seat to my desired (and very short) height and once I pushed off the curb, it all came back to me - just like... riding a bicycle. For someone who isn't familiar with the ins and outs of cycling, I can attest to how well the bike handled on the flooded potholes of Gladstone Avenue.

The word is that a lot of people feel the same about BIXI; over 100 people signed up for the membership just on the launch day. We're 1/10th of the way to meeting City Council's target.

“(City) council gave us the citizens a challenge: can we have 1,000 people subscribe by November?” said Sean Wheldrake, bicycle promotions coordinator at the City of Toronto.

The Mayor's very own Bixi

Mayor Miller gave a congratulations to Michael Barry for reaching the Tour de France via a video on Veloo Media. (Congrats Michael! It's not often a Torontonian makes le Tour. Listen to his interview on CBC Radio)

And in a smooth segue (or at least as smooth Miller can do it) he pulls out his own competitive "touring" bike, the blue Bixi Toronto: a slick, aluminum, 3 speed bike with balloon, puncture-resistant tires, easy-adjust seat, bell and basket. What more could you want or need for $5 a day? And it's hopefully coming here in 2010.

Bikesharing changes cities - Montreal's experience with Bixi

Bixi has changed Montreal, according to the Gazette. Can it change Toronto?

And there is something about the Bixi - something that has captured the imagination, the hearts and the civic pride of Montrealers. And made the Bixi popular enough that it garnered more than one million rides in its first season and, within months of its launch, had been sold to at least four cities on three continents. Clearly, more cities are in the offing: the solar-powered, wireless modular Bixi system, with its stations that can be installed and removed relatively simply, just might be Montreal's best-known export these days.

"The Bixi was an instant success," said Manon Barbe, the city of Montreal executive committee member responsible for transportation. "There was the fact that it was developed here in Quebec, that the design was a Quebec design and that it used materials from here. That it created jobs here. ... It is an extraordinary Quebec success story. And the people who made it a success are the cyclists themselves."

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