Friday, October 19, 2007

Montreal rushing to share bikes

An article titled "Montreal pedals way to 'self-serve' first" in The Gazette (Montreal) states, "The first city-issue self-serve bicycles will start to appear at specially designed outdoor bike stations in the fall of 2008. By the fall of 2009 [..], there should be 2,400 bikes available for rent for as little as $1 per half-hour of use at 300 stations around the city's central neighbourhoods, [Andre Lavallee, executive committee member responsible for Montreal's transportation issues] said."

This won't be the first program in North America as D.C. is getting pretty close to launching, but it looks like it could be the first in Canada... unless those folks in Vancouver have something to say about it! Based on the number of bikes and investment (below), however, this could be the largest bike-sharing program in North America.

"The city has commissioned Stationnement Montreal, a subsidiary of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal, to design and execute the bike rental system. The company, which currently manages the city's paid on-street and public parking lots, will invest $15 million to get the project up and running, and expects to eventually recoup these costs."

"We used to see cycling as recreation, but now thousands of people are using bikes to get to work, or school. This summer, we actually saw traffic jams of cyclists on some of our new bike routes, like St. Urbain. Something is changing right now in Montreal and we all have to come along on this wave," said Lavallee.

Something is changing indeed.

photo credit: Conférence de Montréal

1 comment:

Bill said...

The race to be first (or biggest) North American self service public bike rental city is on! The short use of a bicycle as transit is a perfect green compliment to every city's transportation infrastructure.

There are large fleets of public shared bikes in America, operating on a long term loan basis. of Arcata California is probably the largest, with over 4200 bicycle loans over the last four years ( their fleet size has varied over the years from 800 to over 2000). They loan out bicycles for 6 months, like loaning a book from a library.

They have used donated bicycles in a reuse pattern, and they are quick to point out every bicycle is a used bicycle the day after it is operated. The operation of their system has most of the same repair, safety, management and insurance elements as these new transit bike projects.

There has been a decade of community bike projects in many cities in America already which operate at a low cost.

The buzz of Advertising companies providing the systems for free, is misleading, as they get huge advertising rights in exchange for building and running the 'free bike projects'. Imagine the value of getting the advertising rights to Washington D.C., a city that does not allow public billboard advertising downtown. If Clear Channel gets these advertising rights and only provides 120 bicycles it is clear who is getting the good deal.

The bottom line is bike use for transit is growing, in Europe and here, and the transportation is created by design.