Friday, January 19, 2007

BikeShare Program hung out to dry

Found out only last night that Toronto's BikeShare program is in jeopardy.

Do you know the one I mean? The yellow bikes around the city that you can sign out and ride around for a one-time membership fee.

Totally great idea. And if you read the article, you'll know the program has won many awards.

So why is the funding in jeopardy?

One question in the article in eye that didn't get answered was about how much use the program gets. Do people actually use it? Are the bikes in demand? Is that why the funding slipped?

I mean, maybe the marketing program sucked. It kind of did. I wouldn't have known about it if I hadn't seen a bunch at Nathan Phillips Square and looked it up. And to be fair, I have never used it. But then, I OWN a bike.

But upon reading the story last night, I realized that Alex doesn't own a bike and I kept lamenting that we could never go on a bike ride together. Well, duh, we could have, I now realize.

Except I just looked up the Community Bicycle Network hubs and realized that the nearest hub to us is about a 20-25 minute walk. Not the most convenient, really.

But I could have used it other times. I just didn't.

Maybe that's the problem?

Maybe the problem is that people don't feel safe bike riding in Toronto. Fair concern. It's dangerous because drivers aren't accustomed to it, there aren't enough bike lanes, and people don't actually do it much.

Anyway, I hope that they can make the program work. Maybe if it were better funded, they could expand it and then there would be a hub near me and we actually would use it.

I mean, a $50-membership is a really cheap way to get around for the summer months, isn't it?


Anonymous said...

A few years they tried the same here in Amsterdam. It was called "The White Bike Plan". It was even more 'revolutionary' than the Toronto bike plan: many hundreds of bikes were scattered troughout the city without locks. You could grab one if you needed one, and leave it whereever you liked. All for free. They used non-reclaimed bikes which were cut by the city council (when parked at locations where it isn't allowed for example)

It could have worked out because here drivers are accustomed to bike riders and there is a complete bike infrastructure. But it didn't. Bikes got stolen, demolished or dumped in the canals and it was too expensive to maintain (repairs and new 'old' bikes).

Unfortunately, because it's a great idea...

Unknown said...

That's amazing that Amsterdam did that. How trusting to leave bikes just hanging around!

Toronto's are locked and the hub, where you pick them up, verifies users so in theory they would know who didn't bring them back to a hub (ie: who took it and threw it in a canal if we had them).

I mean, I assume that's how it works, since I've never used it.

The new idea is to combine the program with a training program for fixing bikes. Great idea, I thought.