Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bixi Bike Service Expanding in Ottawa

  The experimental bike share/rental system in Ottawa-Gatineau will expand next year.

There are currently 4 stations - including the NAC, Musee de Civilization, and ByWard Market. The sleek bikes have 3 speeds in an internal hub (protected), an internal chain (no greasy stains on your pants or sox), adjustable seats, head and tail lights, and of course a distinctive shape.

The system will be expanded to 50 sites, but whether this is all next year or over several years is not yet clear. Sites have to be reasonably close together to be useful, frequent, and at desired destinations. Presumably the operators want to expand beyond the tourist market and get frequent daily use by residents. In Montreal, bixi bikes are rented an average of 10 times per day.

I can image that the NCC will put stations at tourist sites. A difficulty I see is if someone cycles out to the museum of agriculture and parks their bike but then comes out and finds no bikes in the rack ... its a long walk back to the downtown or an expensive cab ride.

I found myself wondering where bike stations might go in the west side neighborhoods. First thoughts include
 - the War Museum,
- St Vincent Hospital (it is a major work site even if the patients already have their own wheels),
 - Cambridge/Somerset by the new Chinatown Arch so people can pop over to Chinatown for Dim Sum,
- 333 Preston as its a major employment centre and popular restaurant hub in Little Italy,
- Dows Lake/Commissioner's Park,
- the Booth St government office complex (ride a bike to see your colleagues at Treasury Board rather than using a taxi chit)(may double as a Commissioner's Park site),
- CMPA building or Otrain station at Carling, as an employment node and high density residential node (2 more 8 floor condo towers are coming to the site)
- Bayview Station (take the bus or train to the station, hop on a bike)
- Tunney's Pasture station
- corner of Holland/West Wellington, to access the restaurants and shops
- Civic Hospital

Any other suggestions? I'll add them to the list. It sure doesn't long to come up with 50 suggested locations!
Plant Recreation Complex
LeBreton Station


  1. I think they should put one at LeBreton as well as Bayview, but since it's a block away from my house, I may be biased :)

  2. You know what I wonder about with the Bixi bikes - how many people wear helmets? I assume most people borrow the bikes kind of spontaneously, so they wouldn't have their own helmets with them. I know there are a few helmet borrowing sites, but how many people would bother (not to mention that helmets are kind of a sweaty thing to share)? Many bixi-users might not be regular cyclists (or they'd have their own bikes) so perhaps we shouldn't be sendng these novice cyclists/tourists into downtown traffic without helmets.
    I'm not sure what the solution is, unfortunately, short of each site having a stalk of helmets available.

  3. Plant Pool for sure, plus other community centres and rapid transit stations.

    For the very reason you mentioned, Vrtucar only locates new car locations within a certain distance of another one (400m or 1km, I think, except for some very new ones in more far-flung areas), so that if one isn't available at the nearest location, it's not a long walk to the next one.

    I'm curious where you heard this, and where we can go to find more information (e.g. an NCC media release, or...?)

  4. Focusing on tourists to use a bike sharing system is setting it up to fail. All of the successful systems - including Montreal's bixi, Paris's vélib, and Barcelona's bici have been targeted at the local population rather than tourists. Each try to target tourists but learned quickly, the use and uptake by this market is low for bike sharing systems owing to several factors: perceived barriers in getting access, it is viewed as costly to use the bikes for a few hours compared to say an annual membership; lack of knowledge of how the system operates and the location of stations...
    The NCC should really do their homework on this - stationement de montreal (operators of Bixi) will actually do an assessment for cities interested in using Bixi, has this been done? As well, do not stagger the roll out, saturation has been the key determinant to successful systems.

  5. DC: the twist in Ottawa is that the NCC has taken the lead, and they have a heavy tourism mandate plus the interprovincial thingy. I agree, the only way to make it really work is to have lots of stations, maybe every two blocks in commercial areas, and saturate the area within the experimental farm/ 1950's radius. Post 60's growth is suburban, low density, busy wide roads, and less of a candidate. On the west side, that would be south of the farm, as far west as Churchill or maybe Lincoln Fields, the downtown core. On the east side, presumably at least to the rideau river and south to overbrook but not past the qway except maybe for hurdman and the trainyards. But what do I know?