The NCC will be launching its Bixi bike sharing service for downtown Gatineau and Ottawa on Wednesday, May 18, 2011. The launch will be kicked off with a ceremony that will take place at 11 AM in Ottawa at the intersection of Elgin and Queen streets (next to the National Arts Centre).
NCC's Bixi system will operate with only 100 bikes and 10 rental/docking stations. People will be able to subscribe to the service for $78 a year, $28 a month, or $5 a day. Subscribers will be able to use any Bixi bike for free as often as they want as long as they return it to any of the rental/docking stations within 30 minutes. There are fees when a bike is kept out longer than 30 minutes. The system is designed for short utilitarian trips rather than for day long rentals.
The Ottawa Citizen also has a story and map indicating the location of the 10 rental/docking stations. Three will be in Gatineau, and seven in Ottawa. They all are clustered around the downtown core, and judging from the map, the distribution looks about right. However, when looking at the map, you have to wonder if there will be enough docking/rental stations for the system to succeed.
A key idea behind the Bixi system is that there is supposed to be a rental/docking station nearby when someone wants to pick up or return a bicycle. With only 10 rental/docking stations, it remains to be seen how useful the system will be in the National Capital Region. I could see downtown residents in Ottawa using a Bixi bike to go to work in Gatineau, and vice veras. I could see problems if, for example, someone uses a bike to go to Gatineau only to find that all three rental/docking stations are filled. That person would have no choice but to pedal back to Ottawa in order to return the bike to a docking station.
It should be noted that NCC’s Bixi bike system is a scaled down version of what had originally been planned. The NCC wanted to establish a system that would make use of 500 bikes with 50 rental/docking stations, but this would have required the participation of Gatineau and Ottawa. Both cities found the project expensive, and decided not to invest in the system at this time. It is also worth noting that if the Gatineau/Ottawa system was to operate on the same scale as the one Montreal, proportionally, it would need over 1000 Bixi bikes and 100 rental/docking stations.
Click here for the website for Bixi bike sharing in Gatineau/Ottawa.
Click here for map and story in the Ottawa Citizen.