Bixi bikes: First impressions

Having just spent a month in Japan and a week in New York, I was pretty surprised to see these Bixi bikes right by my breakfast place this morning. I had seen them in Paris but never used them, so I figured what the hell.

You may never have seen something like this before, so if you’re unfamiliar, the service allows you to rent a bike with a credit card from any station in the city for SUPER CHEAP. The basics:

  • Allows you to pick up a bike at any station and drop it off at any other station (ie, you don’t have to bike back there).
  • First half hour with a bike is FREE, so a short trip costs nothing.
  • Further half hours cost as little as $1.50.
  • This system incentivizes biking (no looking for parking) and reduces traffic jams and pollution, not to mention being one additional great thing that will encourage tourism to the city.

Basically this is perfect for me. I don’t have a bike because I sometimes just don’t feel like biking BACK from wherever I’m going, which discourages me from biking in the first place. I end up taking lots of buses and cabs as a result.

Here’s how it went down today though. (Sorry about the point form but it’s easier.)

  1. Saw the bike station by my breakfast place, realized I’d never need to take the bus after breakfast ever again. Nice.
  2. Went to grab one after breakfast. There are 50 pages of Terms of Service but I ignored them (probably at my own peril).
  3. Put in my CC. It gave me a code to unlock one of the four bikes, but it didn’t work. 😛
  4. Tried the same CC again. It says I can’t, so I try another one. Second CC gives me another code to try.
  5. I try the other code on this same bike. It fails. I call customer service.
  6. CS is quick to pick up. Nice girl lets me know that one of the bikes is defective, and if I use my code on the defective bike (which is not labelled), it deactivates the code. FAIL.
  7. She directs me to another station, which is 5 blocks away, letting me know there’s 1 bike left (info available on this page). I walk there.
  8. I grab a bike and go!

I know it sounds like a bit of a trial, but it was actually ok. The customer service people seem to really want to solve problems and have two stations near my house and tons of them downtown and in other areas I visit, so this thing is totally worth it. Plus, when I wanted to get rid of it, I called the number again to ask for the nearest station. Super easy.

Biking burns around 400 or more calories per hour, so for a lot of city people, this might be a great option. I’m totally looking for ways to make my lifestyle more active, so I’m really looking forward to using this every day. Well done Montreal.





6 responses to “Bixi bikes: First impressions”

  1. Gab Goldenberg Avatar

    Interesting news here Julien. I’ve been curious how this stuff would work in practice. Question is how many of these bikes are defective and what will they be doing to label them / let people know for future reference…

    Just though that an iPhone app mapping the closest Bixi stations and giving directions there would be nice…

  2. Whitney Avatar

    I saw these in Paris and Rome and took pictures- I think this would be a great idea- it’s basically like car share but with bikes- I really hope it catches on in many more places here in the US!

  3. alexis cornellier Avatar

    Gab, there’s about 2-3 iPhone app in the making right now. One is develop by François Proulx, the same guy who develop velo-lib iphone apps (same service in Paris).

    Right now, i propose to enter in google maps apps on your iphone and you’ll get it.

  4. J.Fish Avatar

    BIXI looks to be very nice! You pay $5, but you have the first 30 mns free. Unfortunately, BIXI is a damn trap. I gave it a try and got charged $22.50 for…2H and a half! Quite expensive!Then, I wanted to subscribe to a monthly pass, thinking that in that way I wont be charged for any extra fees, but only $28 for the whole month. Surprise! The $28 gives you only the benefits of having…A key! Except that, you still have to pay the regular fees like anybody.

  5. A Syemour Avatar
    A Syemour

    BIXI is the newest scam by the city of Montreal!! They charge $% per DAY not per 24 hour as the website says. More you use more you pay the pay structure is as follows. Less than 30 minutes free.But you have to pay an access fee of $5 so its not free!! Sixty minutes:$1.50. An hour and a half: $6. After an hour and a half, each half-hour of overtime use: $6.

    I pity the poor tourist who rents from BIXI….Its more expensive than Paris

  6. Fruitfly Avatar

    BixiMe is an iPhone/iTouch app available on AppStore ( designed to help you find a bike and a parking spot in real-time.

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