For how long will BIXI hibernate?

bixi winter

This year, the BIXI bike rental system closed for the season just before the first snow hit the ground. Meanwhile, there are many people in Montreal who cycle all year round, and the downtown bike path along Maisonneuve is cleared of snow and has a loyal number of daily commuters like myself.

Why can’t BIXI keep a small network open all winter? The bikes are made of aluminum and presumably designed for Montreal conditions. Isn’t winter one of our conditions?

I also notice that the BIXI system is being exported to London, Boston, Minneapolis and Melbourne – and maybe a few more cities before the summer rolls around. In some of these cities, the system will be kept running all year. If the bikes are adaptable to different cultures and climate, why can’t they be “exported” to the snowy months of the town in which they were invented?

Is it rational or logical that BIXI continue to hibernate year after year? If the increased volume of bicycles on the roads in the snow-free months increases the safety of everyone riding on dry pavement, wouldn’t it be a good idea to promote the same kind of safety-in-numbers in the cold, slippery months? Wouldn’t this also render BIXI a truly practical way of commuting by demonstrating that it isn’t just a seasonal anomaly like beach volleyball in Jeanne Mance Park?

And for those who would argue that cycling isn’t safe in the winter, isn’t driving a car even more dangerous? Slipping on a bike can result in a scraped knee or wet pants, whereas slipping in a car can kill you and anyone nearby and/or cause thousands of dollars in damages. So it would seem to be safer to get people out of their cars – especially when the roads are icy – even if the winter BIXI  only attracts a fraction of the number of people who use the system in the snowfree months. It’s still less cars sliding around downtown.

If Ottawa can run 50 BIXIs for a summer trial, why can’t BIXI Montreal run a hundred or so in the downtown core/Plateau on a winter trial? Perhaps the bikes and stations could be winterized, like everything else in Montreal is.

One day, maybe people will put their cars away for the winter, and keep our roads safe for the increasing number of pedestrians and cyclists getting around. BIXI could help make this happen.

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2 Responses to “For how long will BIXI hibernate?”

  1. Consumer Behaviour Says:

    Casual cyclists are what keep the Bixi project profitable, i.e. cyclists who would otherwise have taken their car or (more likely) the bus or metro. Only the hardcore would use the Bixi in the winter, however the city would still have to pay for the infrastructure and inter-station transport, not to mention, higher maintenance of the bikes. It would likely be a money losing operation.

    P.S. Comparing the Bixi network with the automobile network/industry is disingenuous, as the scales are totally out of proportion. Even so, winter tires are now mandatory…

  2. qatzelok Says:

    When you say “only the hardcore” would use BIXI in the winter, I wonder if this is only true because the system doesn’t currently exist. In a lot of other cities, people say the same things about summer biking. That only the most hardcore would ever try to bike downtown or to the suburbs.

    And while I agree that the winter version might be a money-loser (at first), it might also help to create a significant pool of all-year riders, something our current BIXI summertime-only service can’t do. The current riders are forced to drive cars or take mass transit for half the year.

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