Ottawa's National Capital Commission (aka NCC) is set to launch the Bixi bike share program today. The bikes themselves aren't set for release to users until Sunday but the CBC news item does provide some interesting stats from 2011 which I think bears sharing here.
There were roughly 22,000 trips last year with a little under 175 subscribers, both monthly subscribers and year-long. There were a reported 7,400 users of the Bixi bikes as well and I certainly remember seeing a few of them on the bike paths, most notably the one on Colonel By Drive.
I am assuming that the NCC is hoping for a larger uptake of the Bixi bikes this cycling season which lasted 6 months last year.
This is, in my view, one of the most socially responsible ventures the city of Ottawa has ever undertaken and I suspect a part of the reason for the relatively weak (in my view) uptake last year is that the program itself is so new. A lot of Ottawa, Ontario and Gatineau, Quebec residents already own bikes, recumbent trikes and other human-powered devices. That, in combination with the single-gear Bixi bikes, probably accounted for the modest uptake.
Weather plays a HUGE role in how these kinds of programs fare and with the very long and warm summer we had last year, that would have helped to increase ridership. Summers in Ottawa are quite variable and though almost always warm, can also be perpetually wet...as in the summer (?) of 2008 kind of wet. So, it is my deepest hope that the Bixi bike season will be a good and long one and that many more subscribers and casual users will take advantage of this incredibly great program.
So, if you are reading this and you want to learn more about the Bixi bike rental program, here is the link and, no, I do not work for them.