If you are like me, you would rather get to your destination by bike and leave the car at home. The weather is nice, just perfect for enjoying the scenic bike route that will take you to dinner at a nice restaurant, or shopping at your favourite store, or maybe watching the newest Harry Potter movie in a theatre.
There is only one little thing that keeps you from doing that. That is the absolute certitude that if you chain your bike to a post downtown and leave it unattended for 5 minutes, you will not find it upon your return. Or you might find the bike’s frame still chained to the post, but the saddle, pedals and wheels will be gone, thanks to the friendly neighbourhood bike thief.
A possible solution to this dilemma is acquiring a rusty, tired and ugly bicycle that will not generate too much interest from passerbies. But what’s the fun in riding such a bike? It weighs a ton and there is no way you can get it even to a jogging speed. You will get to your destination in 3 hours, you will dismount and you will die of exhaustion (not necessarily in this order).
Wouldn’t you prefer instead to walk to the corner of your street, magically find a pretty good bicycle waiting for you in a bike station, ride it to another station close to your destination and leave it there? Repeat the process in reverse order for going back home.
This kind of service is available for years in Europe (which my friends would tell you it includes Montreal). It costs nothing in Paris, next to nothing in Brussels and about $5/day (or $78/year) in Montreal.
You would be very happy to know that starting this May, a bike sharing program has been launched in Toronto too. It is called Bixi and for now it offers access to about 1000 bikes located at 80 stations in the downtown core. Just hope that they will expand the service to Etobicoke soon.
Membership costs $95/year or $5/day. More details can be found at: http://www.blogto.com/city/2011/05/bixi_bike-sharing_officially_launches_in_toronto/.
The official website is http://www.toronto.bixi.com/ and there is also a cool smartphone app for finding the closest bike stations, including available inventory for all of them at http://www.spotcycle.net/.
Update: This gets even better! I just learnt from Michel that:
Best part of the Bixi bike: It was designed in SolidWorks, tested using SolidWorks Simulation, and fabricated by a great Canadian bike manufacturer: DeVinci Cycles (www.devinci.com).
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