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Bixi’s back with a vengeance this season.

Last fall, the city of Montreal took over management of the financially-burdened company and announced that it had adopted a plan to fund and keep the beloved bikeshare service going for at least 5 years. This season’s launch was accompanied by celebrity bike designs, launch parties, and even rides by the mayor.

All this fanfare — and security — has renewed interest in Bixi, spurring the sale of a record number of memberships:

As with last year, 5,200 Bixi bikes will be available at 460 sites in the city, as well as in Westmount and Longueuil. The service is off to a good start, with a record 37,386 members already signed up. That’s 4,000 more than it had at the end of last year, when skittish patrons weren’t sure if the bike-sharing system that filed for bankruptcy protection would survive.

Good news for those of us who like the service, right?

The problem is, Bixi still only has the same number of bikes and docks as in previous seasons. And there are increasing signs that the added demand is causing some problems.

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Morning bike ride through Parc Lafontaine, October 2013Montreal’s bike-sharing system is used by thousands of people, myself included, to get around. Montreal is a city where the ubiquitous orange cone is practically a symbol, with road closures and sinkholes and traffic nightmares and transit service outages the norm as opposed to the exception. In this context, Bixi is often the least stressful and most reliable way to get from point A to point B. My morning commute by Bixi takes about the same amount of time as it would take to drive, or to take the metro. But it’s certainly nicer, more pleasant and much better exercise to hop on a bike on a cool, crisp autumn morning and enjoy the views through the park as I make my way to work, as opposed to elbowing my way onto a crowded and smelly metro, or fighting traffic and circling endlessly for parking. Plus, it’s great for the environment. Win-win, right?

But the service is in financial crisis.

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Open letter to Bixi Montreal, one year later


Dear Bixi Montreal, You and I didn’t exactly get off to the best start. Last year, I wrote you a letter about how badly I wanted to like you, but how, after a few bad dates, I’d decided that the relationship was not meant to be. Flash forward one year, and these days, I’m singing […]

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Open letter to Bixi Montreal


Dear Bixi, I wanted to like you. I really really did. I’d heard such great things about you in your first two years of operations. How your system was innovative. Green. How it was encouraging more people to cycle, reducing traffic congestion, and promoting healthy habits. How convenient and easy and affordable it was. How […]

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