With a simple tweet of “À l’année prochaine!“, BIXI, Montreal’s bikesharing system, has gone into hibernation for the harsh Canadian winter.
Canada’s first and North America’s largest public bike program is not the only system that is shutting up shop for the winter months. Bike systems in Denver, the Twin Cities, Nashville, and Washington state are shutting down until springtime. Bike maintenance, rider safety concerns, and expected low winter ridership are amongst the reasons systems will be shut over the next few months.
Upkeep and Maintenance
For bike share systems, the cost of an individual bike is expensive. (For D.C.’s system, Capital Bikeshare, bike replacements run a cost of $1,000.) Often the bike manufacturer warranty is voided if equipment is damaged as a result of exposure to salt used to de-ice roads in winter. “Having our equipment exposed to salt would damage our bikes and bike station equipment and violate our equipment warranties with our vendor,” says Mitch Vars of Nice Ride Minnesota, a bike share system in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, where winters are long and cold.
Safety and Hazards
In cities where heavy snow and ice are commonly found on roads, rider safety is a real concern. Ice and extreme low temperatures pose potential hazards for cyclists. Duration of daylight is an additional factor that affects bicycle riders.