the Bixi, has now been rolled out in London, Melbourne, Minneapolis and Washington, DC--Arlington, VA. In 2009, the program's first year of operation in Montreal, the Bixi was used 1.14 million times.
I became a subscriber last September like many other people on the Plateau-Mont-Royal. In fact, of the 10,775 people who bought annual subscriptions in 2009, 34% lived on the Plateau. This might explain why you can't swing a cat without hitting a Bixi station. Unsurprisingly, 32,098 bikes were checked in and out at the Mont-Royal station, making it the busiest in the city.
As I reported last year, the Bixi has reduced the number of cab fares in the city, so I wondered if the Bixi had hurt business for bike retail shops in my neighbourhood. We went shopping yesterday for bikes for our kids at ABC Cycles et Sports at 5584 Park Avenue, and I asked the owner, François Sylvestre, what effect the Bixi has had on business.
"It's been good for business," he said. "People who tried the Bixi decided that they liked cycling and wanted to buy a better bike for themselves."
This surprised me. Given the number of bike thefts and the convenience of having a Bixi station at every corner, I assumed that most people would prefer the worry-free Bixi option to having their own. Not so.
"I agree that the Bixi is convenient. I use it myself on occasion," said Sylvestre. "But as for thefts, most bikes are stolen at night, and that is when people have to take extra precautions, like bringing their bike inside or putting it in the garage."
Was it true that the Bixi's success was win-win for everyone in cycling circles? I decided to stop by at D'un Sport à l'Autre at 173 Bernard West to find out.
This is by far my favourite bike shop in the hood. It's the thrift shop of bike and sports retailers. In other words, there are plenty of treasures both used and new if you have the time and don't mind getting poked with pedals and handlebars in the process. In addition to vintage sporting goods and unique objects (see left), you'll find used cycling accessories, such as good quality seats and helmets, at a fraction of the price.
So has the Bixi put a dent in business? Apparently, not. "As you can see," said the clerk, "we're diversified, and no, there has been no change in our volume of business since the Bixi has come out."
And there's my answer. The Bixi has not had a detrimental impact on area sports retailers. If anything, it has made cycling even more popular, and with new cycling paths and more Bixi stations, I'm sure that it will get even bigger.
My question to you reader, if you had a bike share program in your city, would you drop your current means of transport and take a public bike to work or school?
Fun Way to Track Bike Use and Carbon Foot Print
3 Compelling Reason For A Bike Share Program in Your City
City Cycling: Why Renting Beats Owning
A Review of Montreal's Bixi Rental Bike