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BIXI to change name, transferred to Parking Authority

Posted by Chris Bateman / December 4, 2013

BIXI TorontoToronto's struggling bike share system is going to become part of the Toronto Parking Authority, starting in Spring 2014.

Public works chair Denzil Minnan-Wong confirmed the city-run TPA will buy the bikes, bike stations, and other infrastructure off the Montreal-based Public Bike Share Company using money from the cancellation several high-tech public toilets.

The current name will also likely disappear in the transition. "We don't mention BIXI anymore - it's the Public Bike Share System until some sponsor comes up with a very large cheque that we can use and apply to the program to keep it sustainable."

Alta Bicycle Share, the company that runs the New York City and Melbourne systems, is one name being tossed around as a potential partner.

There are currently 4,000 active BIXI members. Since 2010, cyclists have taken 1.8 million trips. The system has struggled to remain financially viable due to a lack of stations outside the core.

Minnan-Wong said he doesn't expect the bike share scheme to get much bigger in the immediate future and talked only about "modest" growth.

"We shouldn't just jump to the conclusion that expansion is necessary," he said. "[BIXI] was the cool thing that all the new cities had so we had to have one and we made some financial mistakes."

"I hope we don't make that mistake again by going holus-bolus into a general expansion, it has to be smart expansion."

Are you pleased the city has found a way to keep BIXI going?

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.



Alberto Respezzo / December 4, 2013 at 01:42 pm
It'll really only work when it spreads to where people live. But why'd they cancel the fancy toilets? People need to defecate in comfort!

Also, is that the best name they could come up with? BikeyBikes would've been an improvement.
Japhet / December 4, 2013 at 02:12 pm
Why no mention of Bixi defaulting on its loan from the city and then offering to sell its inventory back to the city without paying its contractors?
Billy / December 4, 2013 at 02:13 pm
The reason why I do not ride the BIXI bikes is because of the lack of bike lanes. In Montreal, they have dedicated bike lanes that are separated from the main road with small curb in between. I just don't feel safe riding a bicycle in Toronto.
Uhhhhhhhhh / December 4, 2013 at 02:13 pm
I'm pretty sure it was a play on the word "fixie", slang for "fixed gear bicycle".
alan / December 4, 2013 at 02:17 pm
bikes for rent in the downtown core seemed like a great idea...take a bike instead of driving...but if the bikes are situated in areas where people live, the suburbs where more people drive than bike...will it be viable ?
Jason Kucherawy replying to a comment from Uhhhhhhhhh / December 4, 2013 at 02:18 pm
BIXI is actually a blend of BIKE+TAXI. BikeyBike is also a name I likeylike.
Sean / December 4, 2013 at 02:28 pm
Great time to introduce cyclists to be licenced, pay insurance and make helmets mandadory.
Michael replying to a comment from Sean / December 4, 2013 at 02:31 pm
Good luck with that.
Paul / December 4, 2013 at 02:37 pm
Green-B has a nice ring to it also
asdfgasg replying to a comment from Sean / December 4, 2013 at 02:38 pm
I hate the argument of making helmets mandatory. Everything in this country is already so heavily regulated. Give people some freedom to do as they choose.
toronto dude replying to a comment from asdfgasg / December 4, 2013 at 02:47 pm
i agree...and let's get rid of those stupid motorcycle helmet laws and seatbelts too!.....saving lives that's not what a government is supposed to do....let it be each person for more regulations at all!
Jeff / December 4, 2013 at 02:47 pm
How about "Bike Riding Pinkos"?
iSkyscraper replying to a comment from Sean / December 4, 2013 at 02:52 pm
We can safely ignore "Sean"'s comment since no city in North America does this.

We can be relieved that Bixi has finally been normalized in the way that most other cities in North America do bikeshare. There are various options out there, but most involve direct ownership by a city agency, a distinct non-Bixi name, operation by Alta, and corporate sponsorship (Blue Cross/Blue Shield in Minneapolis, New Balance in Boston, Citibank in NYC, etc.) What Toronto is now doing is simply falling into line with best practices. I fully expect the new name to be something like Scotiabike, or TD Bike, or RBC bikeON, or whatever.

This setup is entirely appropriate since bikeshare is now established as a useful public good akin to public transport, which also involves civic ownership, privatized operators (ideally) and lots of corporate advertising. In Washington DC, bikeshare is only expected to cover 50% of costs through revenue -- in other words, it's not a failed business model any more than a subway line is.

So congratulations Toronto, you've now caught up to American cities circa 2011. Now that the system is on solid footing, hopefully Toronto will also follow cities like DC, Boston, Chicago, NYC, etc. and quickly expand -- none of the other big cities has such a limited station footprint, and placing stations where more people live is going to be a very necessary step in order to get the public good (getting people out of cars and overcrowded transit) that is being subsidized.
CW replying to a comment from Alberto Respezzo / December 4, 2013 at 02:59 pm
> But why'd they cancel the fancy toilets? People need to defecate in comfort!

I would prefer a public toilet as well. But not at the cost of $450,000 per toilet. And then I hear that fixing it takes a week by a sub-sub-contractor.
Lee Zamparo replying to a comment from Sean / December 4, 2013 at 03:00 pm
It's been studied numerous times, and found to be too cost prohibitive as well as impractical.
Simon / December 4, 2013 at 03:04 pm
I'm a Bixi member and I use it semi-frequently, although I'd definitely use it a lot more if it had better locations spread out across the city. No stations west of Ossington is just plain silly.
Sean the leprechaun replying to a comment from Sean / December 4, 2013 at 03:05 pm
Adding bikes to existing insurance policies might work, but licensing does nothing for safety. Just look at how many terrible collisions involve licensed drivers.

Any time you see a licence plate on a bicycle, it's from a place that stopped licensing bikes years ago because it wasn't worth it.

Melbourne Bike Share is also looking for a private buyer to take it off the city's hands:
Steve / December 4, 2013 at 03:09 pm
I said this before and I'll say it again. A good way to help cycling and bike share become successful? Have bike infrastructure from a more recent decade than the 50's.
toronto dude replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / December 4, 2013 at 03:12 pm
yikes! a voice of reason and sound logic...that won't do at all in toronto...u must be a tax-luvin leftie
Terry / December 4, 2013 at 03:30 pm
Let's compare the cost of subsidizing a bicycle sharing programs and bike lanes, to the cost of subsidizing the street, road, overpass, underpass, and highway maintenance.
sampellegrino / December 4, 2013 at 03:52 pm
Has anyone really been far ever as decided to use even go want to do look more like?
NotThatDave replying to a comment from Jeff / December 4, 2013 at 04:04 pm
PINKO Bike Share...I like.
dave / December 4, 2013 at 04:08 pm
rob ford has never rode a bike! he saw the bixi gravy year in advance!

by saying no to everything, rob is right about everything that can go wrong! redefining governance! NO can be a vision too!
G / December 4, 2013 at 04:29 pm
There is almost zero bike infrastructure in this city. how can you expect people to ride? It's like having a car but there are no roads to drive them on.
W. K. Lis replying to a comment from dave / December 4, 2013 at 04:37 pm
Simon replying to a comment from alan / December 4, 2013 at 04:45 pm
By "where people live", he doesn't mean the suburbs. He means the areas of the city immediately east, west and north of the downtown core that are recognizably urban that roughly coincide with the borders of Toronto before amalgamation. The majority of bike traffic is situated in the two rectangular spaces on either side of about University and Jarvis reaching to about Roncesvalles and Greenwood (respectively), yet these areas lack Bixi service. It's absurd that not a single Bixi station can be found on either College or Harbord despite the fact that these are the main cycling arteries into the downtown from the west end.
John / December 4, 2013 at 05:29 pm
It is absolutely laughable that no bixi stations were ever placed anywhere near the West Toronto Railpath or West of Bathurst/North of Queen. Who's botched planning job was this?
Torontonia / December 4, 2013 at 05:29 pm
CHRIS - I love this article and I love you and the editors of BlogTO for posting it.
Normally, you guys tend to lean toward the "hippie-er" side of things, however, this article (at least how I'm reading it) is presented in such a wonderful way that we can actually see what a wasteful and bull-poop farce of a representational body Toronto City Council actually is!
Good for Minnan-Wong for investing in something that won't see any immediate long-term growth because we don't need to repair the city's infrastructure at all. Forget the social programs that could be helped, like affordable daycare - we've got bikes like the other big cities, so we're cool.
we should send him a Coach handbag or an iPhone so that he can continue to consider himself "cool".
iBasementdweller replying to a comment from Simon / December 4, 2013 at 05:58 pm
The fact that your ass has sat on Bixi's seats is reason enough for people to avoid it.
jb / December 4, 2013 at 08:02 pm
Should changes its name from "Bixi" to "More hard earned tax dollars down the shitter"
Mitchell replying to a comment from toronto dude / December 4, 2013 at 10:35 pm
lol. I don't think any city cyclist is able to reach lethal speeds on a bike that is as heavy as a motorcycle.

When cyclists get into accidents they only hurt themselves.
iBasementdweller replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / December 4, 2013 at 11:37 pm
Have you BEEN in EVERY city in North America? Or are you just a keyboard expert on those also?
picard102 / December 5, 2013 at 12:35 am
So the private sector couldn't make a go of this business model, defaulted on their loan with the city to the tune of $3.9 million dollars of taxpayer money, and some genius decided we should throw more public money at it, potentially losing more money every day it's operating. Sounds like Toronto city hall.
sam / December 5, 2013 at 06:28 am
DOWNTOWN ASKED FOR IT, downtown got it.
Silliness replying to a comment from toronto dude / December 5, 2013 at 08:43 am
2 bicycles for every person in Amsterdam, definitely more bicycles on the roads than cars I'd say, and not a helmet in sight. They seem to be doing fine.
Torontonia replying to a comment from toronto dude / December 5, 2013 at 09:33 am
The problem is that people want to ride without helmets, then *I* (and everyone else who pays taxes), have to cover their medical expenses because they're dummies.
I say mandatory helmets, licensing and insurance.
If they want to share the road, then they have to abide by the rules...or they can go ride their bikes in China.
Swen / December 5, 2013 at 09:48 am
I would prefer toilets 365 days a year over a failed business model that properly operates from April to November.And it would be better for tourism...
CycleR / December 5, 2013 at 10:05 am
As a cyclist who actually follows road laws (I'm stopping at you, stop sign), I get really uneasy when I see riders on BIXI bikes... In my opinion, they give a bike to people who do not know their way in downtown Toronto and/or the rules of the road an excuse to ride without a helmet. Moreover - do the bikes even have gears? I can't imagine what would happen to cyclists going up or downhill from St Clair. I can't believe there hasn't been a lawsuit suing bixi yet. Be careful, City.

Steve replying to a comment from Torontonia / December 5, 2013 at 10:13 am
"I say mandatory helmets, licensing and insurance."

Literally no city does this.
Um replying to a comment from CycleR / December 5, 2013 at 10:33 am
Did you just read that nonsense you wrote?
the lemur replying to a comment from Silliness / December 5, 2013 at 10:36 am
The difference there is better traffic education, from an early age, a better attitude among drivers about sharing the road and a lot more bike infrastructure that separates them from cars.
the lemur replying to a comment from John / December 5, 2013 at 10:42 am
'no bixi stations were ever placed anywhere near the West Toronto Railpath'

Dundas & Pacific, Dundas & Bloor, Bloor & Lansdowne, Dundas & Howard Park, Sorauren & Fermanagh ... all a short ride from a Railpath access point.
I_actually_ride_a_Bixi replying to a comment from CycleR / December 5, 2013 at 11:53 am
CycleR, please don't post regarding a subject you know nothing about.

1. Good for you for stopping at a stop sign.
2. Would you like them people who don't know their way around town to drive?
3. If you've ever been on a BIXI (which you haven't), you'd know they have 3 gears, one of which is extremely low for steep climbs. And brakes, too. Imagine, they even have both front and rear strobe lights and a bell, a combo you hardly ever see on people's bikes.
4. How is that an excuse to ride without a helmet? What would prevent me from riding without one on the other 3 bikes I own?
5. BIXIs are actually safer bikes. They're heavy, sturdy, always maintained, always inflated, and have massive tires to contend with streetcar tracks and potholes.
6. There is no Bixi service anywhere close to St.Clair. Now you're either trolling, or have completely zero knowledge on the subject.

Seriously, half of these comments are from users who have never used the system, and some who haven't been on a bike in twenty years.

Taxes? You know what, I don't get upset when city funds go toward paving some cul de sac in the middle of whoknowswhere, suburbia, do I? I don't use the road, right? Your AWD SUV can handle it.

Oh yes, I also drive daily and own two vehicles.
Qaf replying to a comment from Torontonia / December 5, 2013 at 12:54 pm
In case it has not occured to you, no amount of protective gear will protect a cyclist in a collision with a vehicle. Who cares if their precious head is intact if you've shattered their pelvis or their legs or whatever other body parts one can run over. At least if they don't wear a helmet and you kill them, you don't have to pay for their medical bill.
the lemur replying to a comment from I_actually_ride_a_Bixi / December 5, 2013 at 01:06 pm
You could still ride up to St Clair from one of the stations on Bloor and then down again. I've seen it done, with braking and shifting like any other bike.
David / December 6, 2013 at 11:22 am
While I'm more of a driver and less of a city cyclist, this idea does have merit and should be given another chance. My doubt is that if the brains that were first behind this idea couldn't make it profitable and function correctly, why do we think that there is anybody with the city that can? I just don't see a business that the city runs that is better than a private company.
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