Enter the T.O BIXI
The BIXI bike-sharing program, first introduced in Montréal, made its official debut in Toronto on May 3rd. To date, the program is slated to offer 1000 bikes, spread over 80 stations in the downtown core. Here is a quick run-down of how BIXI works for those not familiar with it:
The premise behind it is quite simple. When you need a bike, you can sign it out from the station, use it for a 30 minute trip, then drop it off at another BIXI parking spot. You do not need to sign up for a membership in order to enjoy a BIXI ride, although if you plan on using it more than a few times, getting a monthly or yearly subscription might be more economical. $5 will get you 24-hour access, a 30-day subscription is $40, and $95 will get you access to BIXI’s for a full year.
One of the main advantages of BIXI is that you get to enjoy all of the benefits of riding a bike without actually having to own one and worry about its up-keep and potential theft. However, the success of the program and the willingness of Torontonians to buy into this new biking culture will depend on several factors. The first and arguably most important factor is the location of BIXI stations. Currently, they are mainly clustered in the downtown area, meaning that unless you live or work close to one of these stations, BIXI is not a viable transportation alternative. Plans are in the works to expand the program, but this will depend on its initial success. Second, unlike in Montréal where the development of BIXI went hand in hand with the expansion of bike lanes, riders in Toronto will have to dangerously compete with motor vehicles for driving space. Therefore, safety concerns of riders will need to be properly addressed by the city if the program is to have any chance of attracting a wider audience.
In conclusion, although BIXI bikes may not be the most nimble bikes around (at a hefty 22 kilograms), their availability and convenience of use make them an attractive mode of transportation, just in time for you to enjoy the warmth of the coming months.