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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
But, but, but...Fri, 07/17/2009 - 15:59
Why doesn't invoke the invisible hand and clobber the public sector with it? (e.g. change his price or something)
Maybe my economics professor was 'round the bend on this one.
jamesmallon (not verified)
Bixi rules!Fri, 07/17/2009 - 17:37
He can try to offer something Bixi doesn't: different or better bikes.
Bixi is cycling promotion for residents and tourists. The owner can't match that. Nor can he match the convenience of not having to carry a lock, worrying about theft, returning the bike to the same location, or being concerned about the duration of rental.
I hardly think Bixi should be cancelled because one person is unable to modify their business model.
The Pedaller (not verified)
RentershipMon, 07/20/2009 - 12:40
I don't see how anyone would rent a BIXI for more than 1 hour, the price difference seems like an obvious deterent; I also thought you needed a membership to use a BIXI?
kev (not verified)
rental vs bixiWed, 07/22/2009 - 18:14
i was in montreal last weekend and rented a bike because i wanted to go for a real bike ride. the best rental place was 5 km from where i was staying, so i used a bixi to get there!
$5 for the first half hour isWed, 07/22/2009 - 19:10
$5 for the first half hour is too much.
Make it free, then $5 for the second half hour and I'd use it. Subsidize it with parking fees, advertising, membership fees, whatever - but make the first half hour free.
bixi feesWed, 07/22/2009 - 19:52
You've got it mixed up, Svend. This is how it works:
Pay either a yearly access fee of $78, monthly access fee of $28, or $5 for a day of access,
1st half hour = free, +
2nd half hour = $1.5 +
3rd half hour = $3 +
4th half hour = $6 (and $6 for every half hour after that).
So if you use it every day for a year but only use it for half hour at a time (most people can go 5-10 km in that time) then you would only pay $78 a year. It would be quite hard to find a deal quite like that. For regular, short trips Bixi can't be beat.
Tourists have a different experience as they may end up paying more for a half day use. Say they use it for 3 hours. It would be $5 for the day access, then the half hour fees kick in: 0 + 1.5 + 3 + 6 + 6 + 6 for a total of $27.5. Most tourists wouldn't mind paying for that, but they could now pay a bit less if they use a regular bike rental shop. For instance, I found 24 hour bike rental for $35 (http://caroulemontreal.com/en/rentals.php). Bike rental shops are better for renting better or faster bikes for a longer period of time (but still only occassional use).
Svend, Bixi doesn't need to change their prices to accommodate your wants. They've already got tons of people joining.
Okay!Wed, 07/22/2009 - 20:47
Okay, that's a very reasonable price structure - thanks for posting it, Herb.
I'd definitely sign up even though I have a couple of bikes.
I was only going by the initial story in this thread.
Velib suggests rentals not a threat to bike salesTue, 07/28/2009 - 09:14
"I've read somewhere that 2 million bicycles have been sold in Paris since Vélib' started. "
Thommango (not verified)
But they rent bikes for free.Tue, 07/28/2009 - 15:15
I just returned from a trip to montreal. Outside Mount Royal subway station there is a tourist info booth where they rent bikes for FREE! So, it isn't just BIXI that would eat into business.
BIXI can be a bit frustrating to use b/c sometimes you can't find a dock and some docks are not working. If you were really planning to spend the day riding, bixi might be a poor choice. So, there might still be some market for renting a bike, but between bixi and free rentals at tourist info stations, it's gotta be a pretty slim market.
I loved BIXI. It was really great to be able to alternate between riding and walking without any backtracking. I downloaded an iPhone app that let me know the location of all available bikes and bike docks and that made it even better.