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Awesome: Toronto Gets Bike Sharing

May 04, 2011 By: Peter Smith Category: Advocacy

BIXI Toronto has launched. This is a really big deal.

I like the ‘human-powered transport is a human right’ argument as a good reason to support public bike-sharing systems, but the ‘relieves (auto) congestion‘ reason is solid, too, and will appeal to drivers as well. Of course, with gas prices, I think banging on the ‘gas prices!’ drum is a good idea — we need to allow people to get around under their own power, save some money, etc.

Toronto is a major city (somewhat unlike DC), it’s in North America (unlike Paris), and it’s English-speaking and culturally-similar to US cities (unlike Montreal). If located in the US, Toronto would be our 4th-largest city. It’s the 5th-largest sports market in North America, with several professional sports franchises. It’s a financial center, has at least one world class university, was home to Jane Jacobs for the second part of her life, has a transit system that wasn’t completely dismantled by General Motors, etc. Now, Toronto has bike-sharing (actually, it had a small system a few years back).

Reading through some of the opening press accounts, I found this interesting tidbit:

There are also wider concerns that there is not enough existing cycling infrastructure in Toronto to support the program. Bike lanes have yet to materialize in the numbers we were promised back in 2009, and major thoroughfares like Bloor Street remain potentially dangerous for cyclists.

The writer just takes it for granted that cyclists need to be able to ride the major thoroughfares of the city safely — not the minor ones, the major ones. I agree.

Not quite sure I’d have picked black as the color of the bikes — not an easy color to see. And don’t like the ads all over the bikes and stations. And I still want some bikes with child seats.

But, at least the Toronto bikes will stay on the street all year long — unlike in Montreal, where they take the bikes off the streets in winter. I really have no idea what drove that decision — it just seems weird to me.

As far as I know, Boston is the next significant US city on tap. Chicago is toying with the idea of bike-sharing - they have some promo stations set up. Miami is rolling along nicely (more) — and check out that basket! [Miami has almost the same flag as India. Now, if we could get bike-sharing to take off in India before motorization is completed there.] New York City is talking bike-share, but as far as I know it’s still just talk.

With Toronto coming online, it’ll provide some learning and political cover for bike-friendly New York City pols — not to mention some more protection for cyclists from angry cops, drivers, and wealthy people bent on keeping non-rich people down. Soon, it will probably be seen as grossly irresponsible to not have a bike-sharing system in your city. Mayors and councillors will have to explain why they’re foot-dragging on the expansion of bike infrastructure. Removing bike infrastructure will become very difficult-to-impossible — there will just be too many people crowding any existing infrastructure, and biking will enjoy much more popular and political support (naturally).

Well, we can hope. :)

With bike-sharing taking the world by storm, Google is looking prescient for their decision to invest in bike directions. I knew bike-sharing could work and probably would work, but I had no idea it would be so influential so quickly. Now, if we could only get Google bike directions on the iPhone (they are available on Google/Android-based phones). Ride The City’s iPhone app is $2.99 and includes Toronto. Google bike directions are available for Toronto — just not on the iPhone (yet?).

Congrats to our brothers and sisters in Toronto — living the bike lifestyle up there just got a bit easier today.

Toronto Launches Bike Share Program by NewsLook

More video here. Silent ad.

1 Comments to “Awesome: Toronto Gets Bike Sharing”

  1. I’m all for the ads if they help bring in additional revenue for the bikeshare program. Buses do it, why not bikes?


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