Introduction found this service to be beneficial to this

BIXI Montréal was created to promote an environmentally friendly mode of
transportation within the island of Montreal. Since its inception it has come a long way.
Montrealers and tourists have been using this mode of transportation for several years now,
especially in the city’s downtown core. Many have found this service to be beneficial to this
great city, we are even looked upon as an innovator in this department as Montreal was one of
the first North American cities to implement the bikeshare system. Needless to say, as great as
this service is to all who take advantage of it BIXI has had its fair share of problems. The main
adversity has come from the fact that the bikeshare system shares the Montreal roads with motor
vehicles which poses a problem which has caused accidents and injuries. This paper will focus
on BIXI by giving a bit of history on the company, problems it has faced, problems it still faces
and lastly the issues behind its policy decisions. BIXI’s commuters interests have been forgotten,
this innovative idea was created with the benefit of promoting health and an alternative zero
carbon emission method of transportation.
When comparing bike sharing in Montreal to a European city like Amsterdam, Montreal
fails in one key aspect; protecting its users from the perils of the road. Amsterdam on the other
hand is only accessible by boat, walking or biking. In some areas, it is strictly forbidden to
operate a motor vehicle which heightens the purpose of using a bike. Can BIXI survive long
enough to find a balance with its cohabitants on the road or will it eventually die out due to these
critical problems of coexistence. Canada is a vast country, and due to the North American
mentality revolving around the motor vehicle it is troublesome to find a fit for bike sharing in a
society that thrives on cars. The lack of densification within the city poses a problem, streets are
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being narrowed, bikes, cars and bus/taxi lanes are competing for the limited infrastructure. Could
it be that there are too many priorities given to different methods of transportation on the streets
of Montreal?
Brief History
BIXI was initially created in 2014. “BIXI Montréal is a non-profit organization created in
2014 by the city of Montreal to manage its bike-sharing system.” (BIXI, 2017). The goal of this
organization was to create a bike sharing environment where yearly pass holders or the average
individual can pay to use the service. (BIXI, 2017). The BIXI service is offered via time blocks
and are relatively inexpensive when compared to using a taxi service. The city made it possible
to have access to many frequented destinations within Montreal by providing bike docking
stations in almost all areas of the downtown core.
This venture into bike sharing was a major investment for Montreal. For BIXI to find
partners to help subsidise the operational costs, as well as, the initial costs of the bike racks and
bicycles themselves was not a major hurdle as many companies want their name to be associated
with a clean transportation mode. Although BIXI has faced some financial hardship, which has
often turned into a political crisis as the money used for the BIXI system is partially provided by
taxpayers. “The starting point of that episode, which saw BIXI being framed in an increasingly
negative way in the media, was the need for the City of Montreal to support the Public Bike
System Company through a $108-million “rescue package” consisting primarily of loan
guarantees.” (Béland, 2014 p.553). The main issue rested within the city itself, to create a bike
sharing system there were major capital investments made by the city to create the bike
infrastructure. A major revamp of the downtown core’s infrastructure had to be created to
improve the safety and security of cyclists. Once this would be created the optimal situation
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would exist for a zero-carbon method of transportation within this great city. It is still a mystery
as to what this project actually cost the city from start to finish. Montreal is not new to corruption
and over inflated construction contracts, so to identify the total cost incurred for this initiative
and the real cost to the taxpayers would be a feat in itself. To conclude this section, Montreal
may be stuck with this alternative economically friendly method of transportation as the
investment has been made and once the money has been spent there is no reason to give up on
the project. As past trends have shown the city of Montreal has constantly reinvested money into
this public bikeshare system.
Dangers for BIXI Users
When analyzing BIXI it may be clear to some that this bike sharing system poses a
significant number of dangers to the commuters. To begin there are road vehicles which BIXI
commuters must account for especially on streets that only have painted bike lane lines which
have no physical separation between the cyclists and motor vehicles themselves. For example, if
we look at De Maisonneuve Boulevard in the downtown core, this could be viewed as one of the
safest bike paths within the city. There is a clear cement divider between the cyclists and
vehicles. This divider only provides the BIXI commuters a certain amount of protection as
opposed to the intersections where the largest amount of accidents occur. When vehicles turn off
a main boulevard like De Maisonneuve, they not only need to account for pedestrians crossing
but must look both ways for cyclists. Unfortunately for BIXI users the city cannot install cement
dividers throughout the city as the cost would be too elevated and there is a need for residential
parking, as the city has too many cars and not enough parking garages.
A second danger that exists for bike sharing commuters is that of pollution created by
vehicle emissions. Taking this environmentally friendly mode of transportation does not shield
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cyclists from the harmful pollution that is found in urbanized cities like Montreal. There are no
filters between the cyclists and the air they breathe unless they opt to wear a surgical mask yet,
even masks do not provide adequate protection. Studies have proven that cyclists are at a higher
risk of carbon dioxide inhalation. “Despite these widely-documented positive benefits, cycling
downtown, especially during the commute, may be associated with health and safety risks due to
potentially high levels of exposure to air pollution, … as cyclists travel on roads shared with
motor vehicles or on cycling routes adjacent to or near main roads.” (Apparicio, Carrier, Gelb,
Séguin & Kingham, 2016 p.63). If someone is truly an environmentally conscious individual,
would this make them rethink using a bike sharing system? No government policies can curb this
matter as pollution is a systemic problem that exists in all cities throughout the world.
Lastly, a final danger to be discussed is that of self-protection of the heads of the
individuals using the bike sharing system. As a fellow Montrealer walking the streets of the
downtown core it is all too often than individuals riding their own personal bicycles are seen
wearing helmets. A helmet can be the difference between life and death as it is the only
protection between one’s head hitting the pavement during an accident. Some BIXI commuters
choose to bring their own helmet to be worn while using the service. However, BIXI must
provide a service that ensures that when a user rents a bike it includes a safety helmet. Although,
these bikes aren’t meant for speed as they are a cruiser type of bicycle, that does not change the
fact that an accident can still cause grave injury. “Local commentators suggest that this increase
has been accompanied by an increased risk of collisions because PBSP users are less likely to be
experiences cyclists or may be tourists who are not familiar with their environment.” (Fuller,
Gauvin, Morency, Kestens & Drouin, 2013 p.921). Individuals can argue that they are seasoned
cyclists who obey all traffic signs but that may not always be the case. That argument has the
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equivalence of a motor vehicle operator justifying that there is no need to wear a seat belt. BIXI
needs to provide an answer to this problem as the protection of its customers should be its
number one priority.
Construction has been a dominant site throughout Montreal. We are often known as the
city of cones due to the fact that wherever one looks orange construction cones are visible
throughout the city. So how does construction affect BIXI from providing what it was set out to
do? The answer is simple, with an increased amount of construction within the city, cyclists are
at the mercy of road closures and detours. They are not the only ones as pedestrians and vehicles
must yield to these detours and closures as well. Relating to a previous point found above, the
lack of helmets and the increased number of detours means that BIXI commuters must deviate
from designated bike paths and merge into traffic with motor vehicles. Construction sites and
road work are inevitable, they are crucial to a developed society.
Construction zones along with their detours hinder BIXI and their customers. There is no
way to bypass this reality, the users of the service must accept this fact. If you do not like it, you
can opt out of using the service and choose to be a pedestrian instead. This problem further fuels
the debate of dominance on the road. When road work is underway, motor vehicles and cyclists
must share an even narrower road. This poses a grave problem for BIXI commuters as their
safety depends on the bike lanes that can be found around the city. When these lanes are out of
commission due to closures, safety is inherently hindered