(Photo: Jay the Commie)
A bike rental store owner is upset with Bixi in Montreal, claiming that Bixi, the public bike sharing service, is killing his business.
Does he have a case? Or is he full of it?
He warned the city in April 2008 that the Bixi project, launched six weeks ago and slated to expand to 400 stands housing 5,000 bikes by next month, could wreak havoc on private shops. Yet the city placed a station 40 metres from his storefront. When he complained, it was moved two blocks east.
How nice of Bixi. They were under no obligation to move the station just to reduce competition with his shop. You don't see Starbucks agreeing to move just because they are competition for the local coffeeshop. What if people actually want to drop off or pick up Bixi bikes in the area? They don't deserve to?
Bixis are meant for short hops by commuters, not tourists on a half-day jaunt, Giroux said.
So, you're proposing to outlaw tourists from using it?
The city responded to his complaints by putting notices on stations that say the bikes are intended only for short-term use, providing improved explanations of the system's pricing structure ($5 for the first half-hour, but prices jump with time, so a full day costs about $80, compared with $25 at Ça Roule), and slapped the name of his business on nearby stands - all to little effect, Giroux says.
Okay, it's not outlawing tourists but what else can Bixi do?
"I'm convinced the city is just trying to make money," he said. "I'm paying $5,000 a year to them in taxes and they install 60 bikes around me. It's unacceptable."
First, the citizens are actually the "owners" of the city, so big deal if it's trying to make money. Usually people complain that cities are just losing money, and for once we come across a program that will actually break even within three years. Second, Bixi is actually a company that is required to be financially sustainable and won't be reliant on tax dollars. Third, and you're not trying to make money, Giroux? Good feelings? I thought not. Forth, even if Bixi was subsidized by the public sphere how is that bad? Public transit gets lots of subsidies. Our highways get even more subsidies. But somehow Bixi and cycling isn't deserving even though they're the most egalitarian of all modes of transportation.
To be fair, I can understand the fear and anger of losing a business and a way of life, but the city shouldn't have to go out of its way to ensure the survival of his business in its current form. If bike rentals is no longer working, maybe find something else to sell