Monday, July 5, 2010

Public bikes to hit Toronto streets next May

Bike stations like this one will soon be cropping up all around downtown Toronto, thanks to the green light city council gave to a bike rental system based on Montreal's successful Bixi program. VINCE TALOTTA/TORONTO STAR
Bixi bikes await their renters in Montreal (Image: Shawn Carpenter)

City council has given the thumbs up to a bike-sharing program that should see about 1,000 bikes set up for public use throughout downtown Toronto by May 2011. The initiative will be run by the same company that orchestrated the successful Bixi—“bicycle taxi”—program in Montreal. In theory, the city of Toronto will incur no costs in the endeavour but will act as a guarantor for the $4.8 million loan needed to start things up.

The city will also cover the cost of replacing or repairing stolen or vandalized bikes if the rate of damage to the fleet rises above six per cent. Here’s hoping that Torontonians are as tame as Montrealers (we are, after all, out-partying them now), who demonstrated an admirable one per cent rate of vandalism or theft in their program last year. Things didn’t go so well in Paris, where a much larger bike-sharing program ended up with 80 per cent of its initial bikes stolen or damaged.

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