There’s a funny turn-of-phrase that goes,
When I’m walking, I can’t stand drivers.
When I’m driving, I can’t stand pedestrians.
But no matter what I’m doing, I can’t stand cyclists.
..and although it may be a bit harsh and not entirely true, admittedly it’s sometimes difficult for all 3 to share the same streets in a congested city. And now in Toronto, the number of cyclists on the street is shooting through the roof, thanks to a hugely successful launch of the BIXI bike sharing program.
BIXI’s Success in Toronto
If you’ve been anywhere downtown Toronto in the past month, you have undoubtedly seen the racks of unique looking bicycles either on sidewalks or in parking lots, and chances are they have been missing a lot of bikes from their racks. That’s because they’ve been getting taken out and used – a LOT.
After only a month of being in place, there have been 64,500 total trips on BIXI bikes in Toronto, and 28,830 were from just last week. Average that out over the 1 month that BIXI Toronto has been around, and you’re looking at 2,300 trips a day during a month when the sun barely shone once.
The service started with 1,000 bikes and 80 stations, and they are already gearing up to expand with additional docking stations at mid-point locations to make renting a bike and getting around the city quickly easier than ever.
Where BIXI Toronto is Failing
Now, the biggest problem BIXI Toronto faces is the lack of racking space at the city’s most popular destinations. Reports from cyclists say that racks near locations such as Union Station are so full that bike renters have to find the next-nearest location to dock their bikes, and then walk the rest of the way. Not only does this defeat the purpose of making these locations easily accessible, it also could add to the cost of the rental (BIXI riders get 30 minutes free per ride, but after that point overage fees can be applied).
Note: as our reader Michael pointed out in the comments, you can swipe your credit card at a full docking rack and get an extra 15 minutes to find one with an open spot.
What BIXI can do to improve
There’s no argument that the bike rental service is in huge demand right now – it’s a great idea and an awesome way to get cars off the road while still saving people money and time. However, BIXI needs to expand to meet its demand if it wants to keep customers happy. At the very least, BIXI should be adding additional bike racks at hot-spot destinations throughout Toronto.
In their defense, BIXI Toronto has a great online tool to easily check how many bikes and bike docks are available at all of their locations. Visit toronto.bixi.com/ in your browser or toronto.bixi.com/stations on your mobile to see for yourself.
How BIXI Works if you want to Join
You can always visit BIXI Toronto’s Official Site for more details, but here is a quick run-down of what you need to do to get riding with BIXI.
- Visit a pay station
- Pay with your credit card (BIXI holds $250 on your credit card for 10 days)
- Your unlocking code is shown on the screen and is only valid for 5 minutes
- Pick a bike in a dock and enter the unlocking code you were shown
- When the green light turns on, pull on the handlebars of your bike and take it for a spin!
- Return the bike within 30 minutes to any other BIXI station with open racks
Costs of BIXI subscriptions in Toronto range from $95 for a full year (although I’m not sure who is going to be riding a bicycle in Toronto in January or February), $40 for 30 days, $12 for 72 hours, or $5 for 24 hours.
If you’re looking for a fun activity this weekend in the city, give BIXI a try. But be forewarned – you may not be able to drop your bike off where you expect to be able to!