Bixi Bikes Coming to Guelph?

Matthew LafontaineDowntown Guelph

If you’ve never heard of the Bixi Bike concept, it’s pretty straightforward: You swipe your credit card, take a bike, pedal to another Bixi station, lock it in, and walk away. In many ways, these are a great idea, especially in an active, environmentally-conscious city like Guelph. Consider too that as Guelph begins to build more condominiums and apartments, the space to store bikes comes at a greater premium. The concept of renting one then, becomes more and more lucrative. You also need not worry about bike maintenance, or trying to figure out where to keep it at your destination.

I don’t know how quickly the idea will take flight here, but council has actively tried of late, to make Guelph more cyclist-friendly. The addition of bike lanes the length of Gordon Street and development of trails around the Downtown suggests that our local infrastructure could be conducive to such an endeavour. Leave a comment, I’d love to know what you think.

Here’s the article on Bixis from today’s Mercury:

Bixi bike system suggested for city

Chris Seto, Guelph Mercury, A1&A4 (August 15, 2012)

GUELPH — Put a credit card in, take a bike out.

The Bixi bike model is simple and has proven successful in a number of Canadian cities. But how would this bike rental service work in Guelph?

Steven Petric would like to find out. The Guelph resident said he has had a lot of experience renting and riding these rental bikes in Montreal and Toronto and thinks they would be a great fit for the City of Guelph.

“Guelph is trying to become more cycle friendly,” he said. “Not everybody bikes, but if we had stations everywhere, people might pick it up and bike to work or bike to school.”

Because of Guelph’s smaller population, Petric said the bike sharing system could work best if other municipalities teamed up with Guelph. He said he envisions a system where Waterloo, Kitchener and Cambridge partner with Guelph to share the start-up cost, and then run the service together. The larger population base would help make the system more viable, he said.

The Bixi bike system, from Montreal-based Public Bike System Company, allows people to rent a bike from various locations set up around a city. People can insert their credit card and take a bike out for a day, or pay a one-time fee to use the bike at any time throughout the year. When renting for the day, a deposit for the bike is held on the cyclist’s credit card and then waived once the bike is returned to a Bixi location.

The cost of renting a bike without a Bixi subscription is a flat-fee of $7. This allows you to rent for a 24-hour period, with the first half-hour included in the initial charge. After the first 30-minutes, extra charges are incrementally added to the tab.

Tim Plunkett, co-owner of Speed River Bicycle said his shop has increased its number of rental bikes this year, but still only expects to rent out a few bikes each week. In an email, he said the shop has done long-term rentals to visitors or exchange students in the past, but there is not huge demand in the bike rental market.

Michel Philibert, a spokesperson for Bixi, said the company has no current plans on expanding to Guelph or nearby cities.

“Of course, if Guelph wanted to have a Bixi system, it would be our pleasure to add a system over there,” he said. The public bike system is put in place where there is demand, he said, and so far there has been no demand coming from Guelph.

Coun. Cam Guthrie said he doesn’t think Guelph has a big enough population base or large enough geography to warrant something like the Bixi bike system. He said anyone who is interested in using a bike to commute to work or school is better off having a bike of their own.

He said there are a lot of stores in Guelph that sell used bikes at affordable prices, so there would be no need for the Bixi service.

“I don’t want any money from the tax payer going towards some kind of funded transit initiative that may not go over very well,” he said.