How we got to BIXI Toronto: an almost exhaustive background on bikesharing in Toronto

So BIXI is finally announced: on May 3rd we will see 1000 of the black BIXI bikes sitting in their stations all around the core.

How did we get this point? Well there was a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes by a whole bunch of folks, myself included. I’d like to tell a bit of the story from my vantage point. I’m pretty clear on the advocacy and a bit hazier on the politics. I’m pretty sure that there are plenty of people aren’t interested in this at all, but it’s kind of good to write it all down. It may be useful to understand what went well, and not so well for future advocacy campaigns.

  • Way back in 2000, folks at the Community Bicycle Network get the idea of launching a grassroots bikesharing program, adopting the model of the Yellow Bike Program in Minneapolis-St.Paul (via Todd Parsons, my housemate at the time, who really initiated the whole idea in Toronto). The new system is called BikeShare and it operates for 6 years with recycled bikes, web sign-out system and hubs at small businesses around the core. At it’s peak there are about 150 bikes.
  • BikeShare (operated by the Community Bicycle Network) closes due to the increasing difficulty of getting grants. City Council also won’t provide any funds. The idea of bikesharing doesn’t die and different groups offer support, though insufficient to keep it going.

read more