At the BIXI warehouse, employees are busy kicking off the season for the bike-sharing service. More than 9,000 bicycles will be deployed across the city during the day to mark the kickoff.
“We are the second largest [service de vélo-partage] in North America. Of course, we can’t compare ourselves to New York, but we can still claim that we are bigger than Toronto, Chicago or Washington, which are not small towns”, underlined Christian Vermette, director General of BIXI.
Inside the premises, rows of bicycles are lined up, on four floors, ready for use. Every corner has been maximized to allow the storage of the entire fleet. During the winter, workshops ensured its maintenance. On this Wednesday morning, several mechanics are at work installing the batteries of the electric bikes.
“In the last two years, like all companies, we have had supply problems. The average time for receiving parts has gone from 16 weeks to 16 months. If we want to make sure we have safe bikes, we have to have the parts to repair them,” revealed Mr. Vermette.
He explains that preventive maintenance takes place during the winter, in order to allow the entire fleet to be ready for the summer period.
Outside, employees take them out to put them on the trailers of the City’s light commercial vehicles, which will then bring them through the 794 stations spread over the island.
With the addition this year of nearly 500 e-bikes, the fleet will include a total of 7,270 regular bikes and 2,395 e-bikes. A ratio that is close to the 25% that BIXI wanted to achieve.
At the City of Montreal, we hope that the addition of stations will be able to convince more people to abandon the solo car and turn to the bike-sharing service.
“It’s super important. We have seen the alarmist IPCC report. We know that transportation is responsible for 40% of GHG emissions. The City has a responsibility to act”, recalled Sophie Mauzerolle, responsible for transport and mobility within the executive committee of the City.
Nevertheless, some outlying boroughs are even less well served by BIXI, although in recent years, the service has expanded a little more.
“It is certain that in the sectors where there are no offers, it becomes more difficult to convince people. This is why it is very important for us to deploy this system on the largest territory”, admitted Ms. Mauzerolle, who sees it as a question of “geographical equity”.