Sunday, August 2, 2009

Montreal's Bixi Bike Share comes to SF

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.


  1. I wish they would roll this out here in Seattle, and to more major cities in the US. Keep on blogging on this, the more atttention, the better!!!

  2. They have these in Paris, and people actually use them a ton! Glad to hear that they have them in this continent as well. I just discovered your blog thanks to the Blog of the Day status. Love it, originally from Marin, and raced MTB in high school. Keep up the good work

  3. I bike up here in the flatlands of Chico but I imagine that any San Francisco biking involves regular hill climbing. CityGrind, or CrankSF, would be good. BayVelo, FogCity_Velo or Quakevelo reflect S.F.'s natural features.

    The real problem will be destruction and theft of bicycles. The US is simply not civilized enough to handle this kind of civic responsibility.

  4. Thanks biker bloggers. In the US , everyone is watching DC closely to see whether the program succeeds there: but look to New York and Chicago as well. Portland is considering bike-share and SF will give it a try. Re: hill climbing: I was daunted by the prospect before I started riding all the time. Surprise: it gets easier and mostly you can maneuver around the hills so it's not really as much a hindrance as expected.