So as I mentioned in an earlier post, one of the things that Montreal has going for it over Toronto is the Bixi bike-share program.
With the program, you can either pay for a day pass ($5), monthly pass ($28) or yearly pass ($78) – well not really yearly because it only runs from May 1st to Nov. 30th. Apparently heavy snow and ice poses a problem for some bikers.
With your pass you can use and dock a bike at any station — the stations are located about 300 meters apart.
The first 30 minutes is included in your pass and then any extra time is $1.50 every half hour. (Though really you never need to take it for longer than half an hour because you could always dock the bike you have and grab another one.)
Now Montreal has exported this program to several cities, including London, England, which launched theres on Friday. (Side note – I’m heading there in two months time!)
Anyways, Toronto city council voted to get bixi next summer — if they meet a long list of requirements. Herein lies the problem.
One of the requirements is getting 1,000 people to sign up for the service by Nov. 1.
I know Toronto is the most populous city in Canada, but I have to say I’m doubtful that this is going to happen.
Having lived in Montreal for two months now, I have to say that Montrealers bike a hell of a lot more than Torontonians do. I’m talking people who own their own bikes.
So many people bike in Montreal, that many of the houses around where I live have home-made signs on their fences requesting people not to lock their bike there.
There’s a good reason for this too. Montreal has 502 km of bike lanes. (I know that seems like a huge amount but I double checked.)
You can basically get anywhere you need to go on a bike lane. (Many of them are actually separated by a cement barrier too).
Nothing like this exists in Toronto.
Of course, you could make an argument once the bike system gets set up there will be more pressure to make changes. And I hope this is true. I’m just scared that people won’t feel confident enough in their cycling abilities to want to try out a bixi system in downtown Toronto.
Furthermore, when Toronto announced this 1,000-person requirement they said if Montreal can get 28,000 to sign up, we can definitely get 1,000.
What I don’t think they are considering is Montreal only had 10,000 people by the END of their first year. The 28,000 is this year’s numbers.
Finally, I think a lot of people bike because they find the transit system too slow. (That’s why I bike in any case). The TTC is comes much more frequently than the STM. I have a feeling people aren’t going to give up their 10-minute subway ride to bike for 25 minutes.