No extra BIXI bike locations to be added in Toronto?
BIXI bikes are genius. You rent a bike from one location and drop it off at another near your intended destination. The model molders a bit when you consider that Toronto's stations are locked into Toronto's concrete core, and if you're headed much to the west of Bathurst or east of Parliament, you're out of luck. Furthermore, it seems that there are no new BIXI stations being planned for Toronto, and here's why.
Let's crunch the numbers: Toronto's measly 80 stations and 1,000 bikes lag far behind Montreal's whopping 405 locations and 5,050 bikes (launched in 2009), but compared to Ottawa's 100 bikes over 10 stations — and considering the capital's initiative launched just two weeks after ours — Toronto's national standing improves.
This assumes that the BIXI bike system is designed with expansion in mind. Despite growing demand, however, BIXI stations remain fixed at their original number (if not within their original boundary). A bit of digging reveals that Montreal has also remained fairly stationary, with 5,000 bikes and 400 stations implemented at its inception.
Public Bike System's spokesperson, Michel Philibert, says that "BIXI can't do it by itself. We have to work with the City of Toronto to increase the number of stations, but we have no news to communicate at this point." When asked what the hurdles are, Philibert confirms that funding is a big part of the problem, and laments that, "it's never easy, but we're confident that we'll have more bikes and stations in Toronto in the next few years."
What to do? Last year, the shareable bike crusaders at We Want More Bixi created a online map for users to pin their suggested stations on. Despite the predictable clot of red pins in Toronto proper, spreading from Parkside to Main St., there's visual proof that there are bike aficionados in the city's northern outskirts as well.
I spoke to Andrea Garcia of the Toronto Cyclists' Union — the masterminds behind We Want More Bixis — who confirmed that there are currently no plans for BIXI expansion, and that obtaining funding is the first step. We Want More Bixis aims to provide the data to politicians and urge them to take stock of this as-yet underused resource, as well as to BIXI Toronto, as a rallying call for more funding and as help in planning their next stations.
The Toronto Cyclists' Union is "very much in favour of the expansion," and successfully passed a motion with Councillor Mike Layton requesting that transportation services report back to the Public Works on a possible expansion plan. They haven't yet.
What do you think? What can we do to sway the City of Toronto to make BIXI's expansion a priority?
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