I missed out on bicycling in Montreal a year ago, but Sunday I rode a Montreal bike in Golden Gate Park. A juxtaposition that was just fine.
My partner and I were among the first to try the new BIXI bike-share rides during the demo near Conservatory Drive, but morethan 63,000 Montrealers beat us to these smooth, sturdy rides. Montreal has mounted the largest and most popular bike-share program in North America, and San Francisco straggles behind with press conference announcements of things to come....that have yet to arrive.
We took to the demo ride so well that that BIXI staff had to come out looking for us down JFK Drive. My product placements took a little too long it seems, but the staff didn't let on that they feared theft. Some introduction to SF that would be.
Montreal quickly added 2,000 more bikes and 100 new rental/drop off stations to their program after the huge success of the initial roll-out. Nearly 8000 Montrealers plunked down their loonies to start bike-sharing. And they ride on cool designer objets, according to the International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA).
Hundreds of other San Franciscans tumbled into the park after we returned our demos. Quite a few said they liked the BIXIs a lot for short rides but would hope for more than a 3 speed for a San Francisco version. Lots of props for the pedal-powered rear lights too.
San Francisco will get its bike-share and what would you name it? Paris has its Velib, Montreal the Bixi, Lyon the Velo'v, Pamplona the nbici, Barcelona its Bicing, and Copenhagen the Bycyklen. How about something with San Franciscan edge and verve -- surely something better than the perfunctory "CityBike" (Oslo), "Call A Bike" (Frankfurt), or the "Storstockholms Lokaltrafic" (Stockholm). But Rio has "Samba," there's inspiration for us.