Friday, August 29, 2008

Toronto Going for Green

According to an article in Canada's Globe and Mail, Toronto Councillor Adrian Heaps "expects to announce the rent-a-bike program by the end of October" with a Summer 2009 launch.

The term "rent-a-bike" is the article author's terminology. Calling bike-sharing "rent-a-bike" is like calling a fine California wine "grape juice". Rent-a-bike is what bike shops do. Bike-sharing is what cities and universities do. One is recreation, the other is transit.

The article continues, " '[The bike-sharing service] should be privately run. I'm of firm belief [the city] should have no role in running it, though we certainly should be setting the standards,' Mr. Heaps said.

"But lack of funding has blocked at least one similar endeavour. Toronto's Community Bicycle Network bike-share program sank in 2006 after they it find the funds, said mechanic co-ordinator Sherri Byer.

"The network charged membership fees of about $35 and relied on grants, she said, but it wasn't enough. Still, the market is there."

The Community Bicycle Network ran Toronto Bikeshare, a great 2nd generation program operated by highly dedicated individuals. Registered customers could access bikes by speaking with the shop owner, University of Toronto staff member, or other individual who had a key to unlock the bikes from a rack just outside of the respective organization's building. These were yellow utilitarian bikes and wheelbender racks. It wasn't high tech to be sure, but for a low budget program it was a good economical idea that worked for many years.

When I visited Toronto Bikeshare a few years ago I was impressed with Toronto's bike infrastructure and bike mode split. I'm sure bike-sharing will do well there. I imagine the tender for an operating would be out next month. Stay tuned Torontonians.

photo credit: urbanmkr

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