Thursday, May 14, 2009

Major Bicycle Initiative in Montreal Mimics Paris Eyed in New York

While North Americans are in the midst of Bike to Work Week its important to note that most of the world bikes to work as a matter of course. It seems that North Americans are the last to jump on any bandwagon that improves our health or saves the environment.

A big splash was made this week with regards to Montreal's plans to link 3000 bicycles to its transportation network. You know that the splash is big when the New York Times reports on your launch. The Bixi system, as it is known, will have 300 solar-powered stations (to fuel the electric bikes) at subway stops and other high traffic areas in the central core of the city. The solar power also allows for easy removal of the bike stations when winter arrives.

While new to Montreal, and under discussion in New York City this program is not novel nor new. It has been operating in Paris as Velib (velo libre or free bike) for a number of years. The ubiquitous parking stalls (as pictured above) are located every 300 metres in Paris and bikes even come with a basket for your local trip to the marche to pick up a baguette and some cheese. While primarily used by locals toursists often jump aboard the bikes using their debit cards to do some sightseeing as bikes can be dropped off at any station in Paris.

Not everyone lives in Paris or Montreal but that is no reason not to get out and pedal. Benefit yourself and the environment...even if its only during Bike-to-Work Week and you've already missed half of it. There's an event near you and if you are motivated, the good news is that May is Bike Month!