The benefits of a public bicycle share scheme are enormous. The challenge of selling it to the public are also enormous.
From an outsider’s perspective, the agonizing over the Bixi bicycle sharing service’s financial situation sounds familiar. The rhetoric here is that the international ventures of the scheme have been an expensive disaster.
Yes, lessons are to be learned from the business model that saw the Société de vélo en libre-service file for bankruptcy at the start of this year, but as Bixis are pulled off the streets for another winter and Mayor Denis Coderre is expected to make an announcement next week about Bixi’s fate, Montrealers should be reassured that foreign experience shows it to be a worthwhile enterprise.
Until just a few months ago, I lived in London, where I worked for Transport for London. I was part of the Cycle Hire team, the London Bixi called the Boris Bikes (after Mayor Boris Johnson). Later, I worked developing the transport strategy for the Surface Transport division, where I focused on cycling.
When London bought the…
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