The idea of establishing a self-service bicycle network in Montreal emerged in 2007 in the wake of similar European operations, including the Paris system, launched earlier that year. The Montreal system, which was included in the Montreal Transportation Plan adopted in 2008, had to be built in a hurry. The Montreal parking authority, which is responsible for managing public parking in the City of Montreal, received the mandate to set up a network that would extend into many neighbourhoods of the city. Our team won the call for tenders with a bold, distinctive project combining strength and elegance.
Ville de Montréal
The challenge was to create a comprehensive city bike system for bicycle sharing in which users could rent a bike from one station and return it to any other station in the network. Designed for short trips, the bikes had to withstand the harsh climate and intensive use. The stations had to be portable, requiring no permanent infrastructure or excavation, and the solar powered terminals had to incorporate wireless technology. More than 45 prototypes were to be built during the initial phase of work in 2008.
The originality of the project lies in the system’s simplicity and great flexibility, which includes, besides the bikes themselves, docking stations, technical slabs and transactional terminals. The technical slabs serving as a base for the docking stations can be located in various urban situations and adapted to a slope a few degrees. Made of steel and weighing almost 600 kilos with the docking stations, these slabs are simply held on the ground by gravity; the electric current required to operate the network is provided by solar energy. The bicycle is inspired by a boomerang, an elegant shape symbolizing an object that returns to its starting point. Apart from the seat, there are no adjustable parts on this particularly robust bicycle.
By 2014, the Montreal project had been extended to ten borough and the cities of Westmount and Longueuil; it counts 460 stations and 9,670 anchor points altogether. Since it was introduced, the BIXI has enjoyed great popularity and has attracted tremendous interest internationally. In 2015, more than 40,000 bikes are on the streets of 18 cities located on 3 continents. They can be found in London and Melbourne, New York and Guadalajara, to name a few.