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Goodbye Bixi, hello “Bike Share Toronto”

bixi-toronto-red-x

The long-awaited changing of the bike-share guard is going to be happening on Tuesday, April 1, when Bixi Toronto officially uncouples from its bankrupt Montreal-based parent company and becomes a ward of the Toronto Parking Authority. The handover won’t be totally seamless, though. Here are the changes you should know about, including a peek at the new logo.

1. It’s no longer going to be called “Bixi Toronto”
This is the change people who don’t use the service will probably find most noticeable. The new name for Toronto’s bike-share system will be, simply, “Bike Share Toronto.” This could change in the future if the Toronto Parking Authority is able to find a private company willing to fork over some money in exchange for naming rights.

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Bixi has filed for bankruptcy (but Toronto’s bike stations should be fine)

(Image: MaxGag)

(Image: MaxGag)

After years of financial struggles, Bixi has finally gone and done it. The Montreal Gazette reports that the bike-share service’s parent company, the Montreal-based Public Bike System Company, has filed for bankruptcy. PBSC officials are laying the blame with the firm’s aggressive global expansion, which has seen Bixi-like systems installed in places as diverse as New York City and London.

The good news is that Toronto’s Bixi system will probably be fine. City hall saw this coming months in advance and laid the groundwork for a takeover. The plan is to transfer responsibility for Bixi Toronto to the Toronto Parking Authority and use money scrounged from the city’s street-furniture budget to keep the system going until a new private operator can be found. The fate of Montreal’s Bixi system is less certain. The city is reportedly in the midst of negotiating its own takeover deal.

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Bixi Toronto isn’t shutting down after all because toilets

(Image: MaxGag)

(Image: MaxGag)

Bixi Toronto, the bike-share service whose demise once seemed virtually assured (largely due to the financial missteps of its Montreal-based parent company), is back in business—and it’s all thanks to toilet money.

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Torontonians pay higher Bixi fees than…well, everyone

(Image: Jed De La Cruz)

Living in Toronto has been getting pricier and pricier, and the city’s rap for being expensive extends to its Bixi memberships. BlogTO ran the numbers on bike-sharing programs here and in other North American cities, and it turns out Toronto pays more than everyone—even the notoriously expensive New York City will have a cheaper program when it launches in a few months. (Annual subscriptions for both cost $95, but riders in the Big Smoke have to return their bikes within 30 minutes, while New Yorkers will get 45 minutes of gratis pedalling time.) According to the fancy colour-coded chart, Bostonians pay $85 a year, Montrealers $80.50, Chicagoans $75, and Houstonians a mere $50. See the chart [BlogTO] »

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How did Bixi do in its first year in Toronto?

(Image: Rahi Delvi)

Like proud parents, we can’t believe Bixi, the bike rental service and bona fide reason to love Toronto, is a year old already. Over the past year, Bixi has worked out some initial hiccups and extended its initial reach to Bathurst, the Distillery District, and along Sherbourne, just in time for the winter cycling season. (Toronto may not be the first Canadian city to have a bike rental network, but it is the first Canadian system available year-round—take that Montreal!). Maybe it was the unnaturally mild winter or the rising ranks of the city’s pinko cyclists, but stats show 23,000 trips were taken in winter, accounting for about 22% of the first year of usage. Altogether, BIXI met its goal of attracting 5,000 members and Torontonians took more than 556,000 trips around the downtown core. Sure we’d still like a larger service area, but that’s not bad for a city whose mayor has been accused of waging a war on bikes. [Newswire.ca]

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Bixi expands its service—just in time for winter

Break out the wool socks. Toronto’s Bixi bike-sharing service will continue through the winter. The service is also moving some of its rental stations further afieldto Bathurst, to the Distillery District, and along Sherbourne (check out this handy map from The Grid)—in an effort to widen its footprint. As we’ve said before, Bixi’s utility is tied to its reach. A greater catchment area and the potential for longer rides can only improve the service. Read the entire story [Toronto Star] »

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Weekend Reading List: top stories from our sister sites, from chimpanzees to zucchinis

Every weekend we round up the highlights from the other websites in the St. Joseph Media family. Check them out, after the jump.

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New York mag posts travel guide to the “Urbanist’s Toronto”

Once again, New York has recruited Save the Deli author David Sax to convince New Yorkers that, contra Jack Donaghy, there’s “no shortage of, well, stuff in Canada’s most diverse, dynamic city.” Alongside a Bixi tour by Yvonne Bambrick, which proceeds along Jarvis Street’s “hard-fought bike lane” (get it while it lasts, New Yorkers), the piece confers upon Toronto the dubious distinction of “The Best Away-Game Sports City in the Americas,” courtesy of Sports and the City blogger Navin Vaswani. There’s also a quick ’n’ dirty guide to the buzziest new restaurants (with less buzzy and busy alternatives) by our chief critic Chris Nuttall-Smith, and our favourite bit, a refreshingly catty thumbs-up, thumbs-down tour of new buildings titled “Love the Gehry, Hate the Libeskind” by George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg of interior design super-firm Yabu Pushelberg (the new ROM addition? “It’s a bit of bullshit. One of these napkin-drawing things.” The Absolute Condos in Mississauga? “They’ve got some balls.” The TIFF Bell Lightbox? “A big bunch of nothing”). Read the whole guide [New York] »

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The Thing: Seduction on two wheels (a.k.a. the bike)

The Thing: seduction on wheels

(Image: Andrew B. Myers)

What with expletive-inducing gas prices and the suddenly ubiquitous Bixi docks, we don’t go for bike rides anymore, we just bike. Everywhere—to work, to the bar, to the opera. And just like you wouldn’t show up to The Magic Flute in head-to-toe spandex, you wouldn’t arrive on a beat-up racer either. Bikes have become functional forms of self-expression, and our bike lanes are runways for a new breed of stylish cyclist, gracefully commuting on retro-inspired models from European brands like Abici or Pashley. With big leather seats and wicker baskets, these bikes are for taking your time, for riding upright in something of a two-wheeled strut. Heads are definitely turning—whether they’re checking out the rider or the bike is another question. Abici Granturismo, $1,000, with Abici Square basket, $100. Curbside Cycle, 412 Bloor St. W., 416-920-4933.

Check out our roundup of 18 amazing city bikes »

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Bixi needs to grow—meaning more bikes and a larger service area—in order to survive

Bixi bikes in Toronto (Image: Gary J. Wood)

Ever since its inception in Toronto in early May, the Bixi bike-sharing rental program has been a hit, growing from 700 trips in its first week to more than 28,000 trips a week by the end of the same month. The obvious question is what to do now. The Toronto Cyclists Union says the next step is to add more bikes (no surprise there) despite the fact that Bixi is underused by the standards of, say, Paris, where the Velib “freedom bike” program racked up roughly six rides per day in its first month back in 2007.

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Features

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50 Reasons To Love Toronto: Nos. 9-11, Momofuku, Bixi, democracy rallies

No. 9: Soon we’ll no longer need to leave the city for a Momofuku fix; No. 10: The Bixi bike-sharing system is finally up and pedaling; No.11: Yonge-Dundas Square has become the city’s stage for pro-democracy rallies

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The Weekender: Robyn, Abstract Expressionist New York and six other events on our to-do list

Princess Diana in a Catherine Walker dress, detail from Willem de Kooning’s Woman I and the Mad Hatter

1. ROBYN
We’re still a tad bitter for that time last November when our favourite Swedish pop singer cancelled her hugely hyped Sound Academy concert mere hours before show time. Luckily, Robyn is back in the city and making up for lost time at the brand-new Echo Beach venue. And for those who only know her for her mid-’90s anthem “Show Me Love,” we recommend checking out some of her impossibly catchy new stuff. June 3. $29.50–$39.50. Echo Beach at Molson Amphitheatre, 909 Lake Shore Blvd. W., 416-870-8000, ticketmaster.ca.

2. DIANA: LIFE OF A ROYAL ICON
The Royal Wedding may have reignited interest in Prince William’s dad, but we’re pretty sure the public’s interest in Princess Diana never really waned in the years since her death. This show at the Design Exchange invites fans to gawk at the Princess’s most famous gowns—like ones she wore for Vanity Fair photo shoots or White House dinners—before they hit the auction block on June 23. To June 10. $10. Design Exchange, 234 Bay St., 416-363-6121, dx.org.

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War on the Car: cars still winning, this time in a battle against a Bixi bike stand

Two-wheeled casualties everywhere (Image: Daniel Dale)

We didn’t expect to see the clash between the city’s two allegedly warring modes of transportation play out quite so literally in Toronto’s streets. But, yesterday, a rogue Lexus plowed into the Bixi bike docking station right across the road from city hall. Add some gravy from a nearby chip wagon to the mix and we’d have Toronto’s civic debate—2009 to present—wrapped up in one tidy metaphor.

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Bixi Toronto launches with limited service, missing keys, rain—and optimism!

The dawning of a pinko cyclist nirvana (Image: Ames Lai)

Bixi finally launched in Toronto yesterday, with much fanfare among latte-sipping cyclists, who can pick up bikes at one of 50 downtown stations, ride a (very) short distance, and lock up the borrowed bike once again. But while Bixi members—who total well over the 1,000 the service needed to get up and running last year—greeted the program’s much-anticipated arrival with happiness, the launch wasn’t exactly trouble-free.

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Check out BIXI Toronto’s 80 downtown bike locations on one interactive map

Click map for interactive version

BIXI is slated to launch in Toronto on May 3 with 1,000 bikes spread out over 80 stations. While we’re all for bringing the Montreal bike-sharing company to the city’s congested streets, the initial offering is a little limited. All 1,500 docking stations are confined to the area between Bloor, Spadina, Queens Quay and Jarvis Street, with a pair of outliers at Jarvis on Queen Quay and in Kensington Market.

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