“Bixi bikes are for short hops, not days out.” This was the advice I was given about Montreal‘s hugely popular bike share scheme on my first day in the city. It came from André Giroux, who was clearly keen to make the distinction between this new scheme and his own 16-year-old cycle hire shop, Ça Roule. “Tourists get confused,” he sighed. “They try to take the Bixis on the out-of-town routes for hours on end, then wonder why they get hit by a huge bill.”
Today, those same Montreal-designed public bikes are rolling around London and with them come the same misunderstandings. Some of the UK press is up in arms about £50 charges for 24 hours’ use, but, as Montrealers know, no one is supposed to hang on to one bike for this long. The key to affordable usage is to dock the bike for five minutes between each “free” 30-minute session and – bingo – no extra charges. The daily charge in Montreal is $78 (Canadian dollars), about £50.
With their heavy frames and three-gear system, the bikes should have “short hop” written all over them. Are Londoners already struggling to see beyond the heavy-handed Barclays branding?
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Photo via The Guardian