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Tag Archive: bixi

Bixi files for bankruptcy

Have you heard about this? One of the nation’s largest bike-sharing companies — Bixi — filed for bankruptcy a few days ago:

By the time it happened, it seemed almost inevitable. On January 20, the Bixi bike-sharing company, based in Montréal, announced that it was filing for bankruptcy protection, citing debts totaling about $49 million, including a total of nearly $38 million from the city of Montréal.

Bixi, also known as Public Bike System, is based in Montréal, but its reach extends around the globe, with systems in place in more than a dozen cities in North America, Europe, and Australia, mostly operated by third parties. Mia Birk, vice president of Alta Bicycle Share, which operates eight Bixi-provided bike-share systems in the United States and Melbourne, Australia, said in an email shortly after the bankruptcy announcement that operations of those systems would be unaffected.

The good news is that current systems are supposed to be unaffected by the move. Read the full article by visiting the Atlantic Cities page. I would imagine that it WILL affect rollout of bike-share systems in new cities, however.

Luckily, there are other companies stepping up to the plate. For example, CycleHop and Social Bicycles recently announced that they will be backing a bike-share system in my old hometown of Tampa, Florida.

Bike sharing schemes are important for cities…one smart way of rejuvenating downtown areas and urban corridors. Let’s hope that Bixi can recover from its financial woes and continue to support its existing city clients.

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Lose the helmet…gain ridership?

In the ongoing “Great Helmet Debate”, a recent article in the New York Times raises some interesting points. The article is mostly about helmet use in bike-share programs (like Paris’s “Velib” or Minneapolis’s “Nice Ride“), but also addresses the different mindsets between Euro- and U.S.-based bicycle advocates:

In the United States the notion that bike helmets promote health and safety by preventing head injuries is taken as pretty near God’s truth. Un-helmeted cyclists are regarded as irresponsible, like people who smoke. Cities are aggressive in helmet promotion.

But many European health experts have taken a very different view: Yes, there are studies that show that if you fall off a bicycle at a certain speed and hit your head, a helmet can reduce your risk of serious head injury. But such falls off bikes are rare — exceedingly so in mature urban cycling systems.

On the other hand, many researchers say, if you force or pressure people to wear helmets, you discourage them from riding bicycles.

Take a look at the full article by visiting the NYT page.

Personally, I am no fan of mandatory helmet laws for adults. The Libertarian-leaning among you (and others, of course) may agree that the government has no business legislating personal choices such as wearing a helmet. For children, that’s another matter altogether…I am definitely in favor of helmet laws for kids. My feeling is this: if you want to wear a helmet, cool. If you don’t, that’s cool too…but I reserve the right to privately think you’re a bit foolish for not doing so. I’m not going to get in your face about it, however — you’ve made your decision based on what you know or think and that’s fine with me.

Frankly, I don’t know enough about the helmet studies to know if helmet laws reduce cycling participation or not. I will say that the few I’ve looked at didn’t seem particularly rigorous from a scientific perspective.

I am curious to hear your thoughts on the matter — the helmet debate can get people pretty heated up, so let’s try to keep the discussion friendly, ok? Alright, let’s hear from you in the comments below.

Bike Share Program Coming to NYC

Of all the cities in the United States, the one that seems most likely to have (and need!) a bike-sharing system is New York City…the most densely populated major city we’ve got. With over eight million people crammed into an area around 300 square miles, there’s barely enough room for cars, let alone all those teeming masses of humanity. Bikes DO make a lot of sense there, and a bike-sharing program even more sense.

Good news, though — Alta Bicycle Share, Inc. has been chosen to establish a city-wide (Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn) system of 10000 bikes in 600 stations:

Bike share will offer New Yorkers a new public transportation option for short, one-way trips that is meant to fill gaps with self-service bike stations located every few blocks. Research shows that 40 percent of trips made by residents are under one mile; 54 percent are under two miles, and 67 percent are under three miles.

New Yorkers and visitors will be able to pick up a bike at any station, 24 hours a day, and ride to a drop-off station near their destination. Smartphone apps will allow users to find out about bike and station availability in real-time. The bike share stations will be solar-powered.

Check out the full article by clicking here, and visit Alta Bicycle Share for more information and details on how it’ll all work when it rolls out in 2012.

The crew here at Bikecommuters.com is a huge fan of bicycle-share programs, and we’ve written about BIXI/Nice Ride in Minneapolis, B Cycle in Denver, Bikestation Long Beach in California, a novel bike-sharing concept called SoBi in New York (current operational status unknown), and the granddaddy of them all, Velib in Paris.

A New Spin on Bike-Sharing Schemes

You may have read about the following elsewhere, but it is worth sharing here, too. Our friend Frederick sent a link to an article on Wired’s site about a novel concept in city bike-sharing setups. This one is from a startup in New York City called Social Bicycles (SoBi) and operates without dedicated kiosks or other infrastructure, and at a fraction of the per-bike cost of other bike-sharing schemes like Velib or B-Cycle. And, it has some really cool features that make the setup eminently user-friendly.

From Wired’s article:

SoBi doesn’t use cycle stations; the bikes are parked throughout the city (starting in New York) at regular racks. Bikes could, in fact, be anywhere at any given time, not just at a designated station that could be blocks away. Users can grab any bike that isn’t already reserved and drop it off anywhere. No need to search for a drop-off station.

Like a Zipcar, each SoBi bike has its own “lockbox? (shown above) that communicates wirelessly with SoBi servers via GPS and a cellular receiver (an H-24 module from Motorola). When you make a reservation online or via smartphone, a map displays all the bikes in the area and gives you the option of unlocking a specific bike by clicking on it.

Read the full article by visiting Wired.

If this scheme is successful, such technology and the relative ease of the setup may encourage other cities to try their hand at bike-sharing.

B-Cycle Bike Share Coming to Denver

Heather Stephenson from Edelman Public Relations just sent us a press release concerning the impending rollout of a new bike-share program coming to Denver. It’s called B-Cycle, it’s sponsored in part by Humana and it sounds pretty cool:

…because of your focus on bike commuting and your discussion of a bike-sharing program in Minneapolis [BIXI/Nice Ride Minnesota], I thought you would be interested in the country’s first large-scale citywide bike-sharing system being launched on Earth Day, April 22, in Denver.

The program will launch 500 B-cycles located at 40-50 B-stations around the city, which offer not only a green alternative to cars and cabs, but also encourage healthy behavior.

Why does one of the country’s largest health insurers want to get more people on bikes? Because just three hours of pedaling a week can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke by 50 percent, says the League of American Bicyclists. Humana hopes that B-cycle can be one part of many solutions to America’s obesity and environmental problems, making it easier for people to lead healthier, greener lives.

Each bike is equipped with computers to track mileage, calories burned and carbon offsets. The tracking enables riders to monitor their personal fitness and contributions to the city’s green efforts while also helping to connect B-cycle users with one another at www.Bcycle.com.

If you would like to bring B-cycle to your community, click here to vote.

b cycle

Full details on how it works can be found on the B-Cycle home page.