Montreal bike-share. Bixi
Rich and I visited Montreal over the weekend and really tested out their bike share system-Bixi (short for bike-taxi). It was interesting to see what big city bike infrastructure is like. They been working on it since the 1970s and they have several long streets with separated bike lanes, lots of streets with painted bike lanes, and some with sharrows. The routes were clearly marked, and sometimes you would be taken from a separated lane onto a painted sidewalk lane for a few blocks, back to separated lanes. The use of sidewalks for bike lane connections was interesting.
1. Super easy to get around (we had great weather) and very convenient. Made visiting such a big city so easy.
2. After riding the separated and bike lane areas for about a day, we quickly moved to riding on any street and the traffic was decent.
3. If I was driving in Montreal, not sure how I’d feel about the lanes. There are definitely issues for drivers trying to make turns where bikers are crossing. Drivers were great and consistently stopped, but I think it would drive me crazy.
4. If I lived in Montreal not sure if I’d use the separated lanes. They get really crowded, the bixi bikes are slow (because they’re super durable) and it becomes congested. I think I’d use the regular streets more often.
5. I felt very safe riding the bike and in traffic, and at any time of the day or night. That said, the bike share system basically means you don’t wear a helmet. I saw plenty of helmets on other riders, but never on bixi riders. You pick up your bike, drop it off, and walk away. It feels weird to walk around with a helmet and no bike. I wonder what the stats are on accidents w/ and w/out helmets as related to bike shares.
6. Very multi-modal. I saw plenty of kids and motorized wheelchairs and a few scooters using the separated and painted bike lanes. It encouraged a lot of access.
I took some photos (more at http://ow.ly/bdvE7):
bike lane on sidewalk. note the section for peds with the person painted on
kids biking in the city
streetclosed for peds only May-Sept.
bike lane, construction, traffic.
Very nice. I went up for the Mont. Bike Fest one year, have wanted to return every year since, have failed every year since. Coming up this weekend. Failed again this year. Now I am sad.
Did you see many ‘natives’ riding in the street with traffic, or do most people stick to the paths? The reason I’m asking is that I have a love/hate relationship with trails.
I really like using them sometimes, but when they are crowded (like summer weekends) I avoid them because I want to bike faster than the circumstances will safely allow. I can see drivers getting frustrated with cyclist on ‘their’ road when a trail is right there for cyclist to use. Something akin to the North Park loop from what I gather from some of the post gazette editorials.
I saw all of everything. Natives on the bike paths, tourists on the paths. Natives on any and all streets, a few tourists (us) on streets. I’d say people use whatever is their preference. Saw roadies in spandex on the separate lanes weaving thru bike traffic which didn’t make much sense to me.
Saw very few cyclists breaking the “rules” and no near-misses. This was through a Fri-Sun with lots of traffic. I think the bike lanes have been there so long a bike/car understanding has been mostly established.
Didn’t see any issues from drivers on non-bike roads against bikers using it.
Also a big fan of the Monteal Bixi system, when I visited last summer. It was really great for short trips — easier, cheaper, more flexible, and probably faster than public transit. They had an amazing number of stations, which is really what made it so useful.
The separated lanes were kind of goofy. I wasn’t sure I liked them.
Those bixi bikes were so heavy and slow, it’s hard to imagine really needing a helmet. I doubt I ever got going faster than a fast running pace. (That’s probably the number one reason I *wouldn’t* use the system if I lived there.)
Cool, although I have to take issue with your comment #3 – I think that getting rid of the assumption that motor vehicles have inherent priority over bikes and pedestrians is really the essence of a place being bike friendly.
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