Montreal introduces ambitious bicycle-sharing program (05/14/2009)

14

May

Montreal introduces ambitious bicycle-sharing program (05/14/2009)

Montreal welcomed North America’s first large-scale bicycle-sharing program yesterday with a flight of 3,000 specially designed bicycles distributed among 300 closely spaced stations.
Bixi, the bicycle-sharing system, operates around a computer chip-based, solar-powered, WiFi-enabled base station. Logistically, the use of solar power makes it easier to add base stations around the city if the demand for bicycles increases.
“The bike becomes another mode of urban transportation unto itself, a practical, economical, ecological and healthy alternative to energy-guzzling vehicles,” according to Montreal’s parking authority, which oversees the program.
Users will pay an annual subscription of C$78 ($66), or C$5 ($4.25) for a day pass. The fees charged after the initial cost are to encourage rapid turnover, with the first half-hour being free, the second costing C$1.50, and each additional half-hour costing substantially more.
Montreal spent C$15 million ($12.8 million) to create and establish the Bixi system, with the hope it would become financially self-sufficent in the future (Ian Austen, New York Times, May 13).–LZ