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Love + Bixi

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Love + Bixi : La curiosité

« L’amour n’a point d’âge : il est toujours naissant »
– Blaise Pascal

Bixi has become the new church hall, the new town square, the new water cooler, the new Facebook.

Bixi has become the new social networking tool.

Each time I take a Bixi, ride a Bixi, return a Bixi, talk about Bixi, or even look at a Bixi, I find myself deep in conversation with strangers.

It always begins with the same question :
So how does this Bixi thing work?
Ou, en français :
Le Bixi, ça marche-tu bien ?

Et hop, je me transforme en porte-parole pour Stationnement Montréal et son projet star.
Je leur enseigne la façon dont j’accède à un vélo en utilisant ma Bixi-clé chouette ou un code fourni par la borne.
Je les informe que c’est gratuit pour les 30 premières minutes et que les tarifs s’accroissent exponentiellement après ces 30 minutes.
Je leur décris comment on peut s’abonner, soit annuellement, soit mensuellement, soit quotidiennement.
Je leur apprends où ils peuvent s’en enquérir davantage :

Then a funny thing happens. As I prepare to be on my merry way, another question flies at me; from out of the blue; no two questions have ever been the same; n’ayant rien à voir avec le Bixi.

Parfois nous discutons les événements du quartier.

Durant une rencontre Bixi particulière, j’ai appris que la friperie près de chez moi aura bientôt des soldes de déménagement. Lors d’une autre liaison bien torride, mon interlocuteur m’a invité à une fête électro sous le viaduc Van Horne.

Sometimes the theme is the seedy elements of living in the city.

When vandalism of the Bixi stations first took off, around La St-Jean, many talked about how unfortunate it was to be in a city filled with ungrateful delinquents. We speculate whether the end is nigh; what with all the shootings happening on the Main.

Je ne regarde pas la télévision; Bixi est devenu ipso facto ma Radio-Canada. Earl Jones, des édifices croulants et dangereux, et le retour éventuel du Grand Prix à Montréal représentent quelques actualités, entre autres, apprises autour d’un Bixi.

I’ve actually spent a day with a Brazilian student I met while exchanging my Bixi for another. She was practicing her French. I was practising my Portuguese (or at least pretending to). Now I have free accommodations in Rio, should I ever travel to Rio.

Bixi should add another selling point to its long list of accolades: bringing the people of of our diverse community together.

En espérant que Bixi me conduira à l’amour de ma vie.

Image credits:

MONTRÉAL – Émile Thomas



  1. I loved this article!!! Plus it is in the corner of my house (the building showing on the left side of the girl)
    This year I decided not to get a bixi cle because I have my oun, but I am a tour guide in the city and tours start and end in different locations. I find myself having to go to pick up my bike sometimes in the oposite direction from home. I can’t wait for next year to get my bixi key!!

  2. Personally, I found the questions from strangers about how it works stopped months ago. But hey, more power to you: keep working it. If it’s helping people get some, I’m all in favour.

  3. Hi Emile, great post! I’m interested in doing a story on this “bixi as new watercooler” concept. Thanks!

  4. Nice blog. It actually makes me think of the dog-park in a sense as this is the way I actually talked with other neighbours. I have my own bike so I have not tried Bixi but it’s nice to have various meeting points (e.g. dog park, community centre, water-parks for children) that allow neighbours to meet each other, otherwise we are often secluded and rarely talk to our own neighbours. The church used to bring neighbours together but it’s not really an active part of most Montrealer’s lives anymore. Anyhow, nice to see that the Bixi is yet another way to meet people.

    In my neighbourhood, there’s a neat “meeting piont” where a guy that fixes bikes out of someone’s garage. The area is always filled with people (regulars) just hanging out almost as if it was the local coffee house. Not sure how that evolved but I’ll have to fix my bike up soon and blog about it.

  5. Bixi is a great idea. Now we just need a network of bike paths (actual paths, not lines painted on the road) all over town and they might be a good alternative to fuel-burning transport. (At least in the spring, summer, and fall)

    Maybe they could put the delinquent kids to work building the paths. Round up the taggers and handcuff them to their picks and shovels! :)

  6. @Lucila

    A 1 year Bixi subscription is good for 365 days from when you activate it… so you can go ahead and get one now and it will be good until next August.

  7. Great article! With all of the controversy surrounding this program (mainly to do with the technological problems, lack of available helmets, and theft) it is great to see a piece highlighting the social contacts resulting from the program. I have found myself in similar situations quite often answering questions about the program for curious onlookers, tourists and locals alike. I’ve even let a few of them try out the bike before I return it/ride off.

    The questions have slowed somewhat, but I think only because all those who were curious during the first few months finally paid their $5 and tried it out. With the expansion of the system underway already and all of the publicity locally and internationally (more favourable) the interest will only keep growing.

    It’s a great feeling exchanging a slight nod when passing other Bixi users on the street (many friends have commented they receive these nods as well), and just about every person I observe ride by on a Bixi is either smiling or exudes a sense of happiness. I know that’s the way I feel. Maybe it’s the comfort of the cruising position on the bike, the knoweldge of knowing you are one of the early-adopters of this soon to be replicated North-America wide technology and form of sustainable transportation, or riding home late at night after a few beers saving $10 on a taxi, but in any case its wonderful!

    I just recently launched a guided bike tour business in Montreal, and though Bixi will take away some of my business to tourists who do not understand that it is not a good idea cost-wise to keep a bike all day to tour around, eventually the kinks will be worked out. Bixi will only enhance bike culture here in Montreal, and the city will have to keep building dedicated bike paths!

  8. Bixi bikes also turn heads. Kids (mine included) are always excited when they see one: Bixi! Bixi! Ring the bell and they get even happier. The stations could be a bit more visible though…. If I am in an unfamiliar area, it is not always easy to see them. More than once I have asked someone where the station was, only to find that I was literally across from it!

    And to all of the bicycle owners who are wavering: I own two bicycles and was also seriously skeptical. I read somewhere that the bixi card was an easy way to lend a friend a bike (not technically permitted) and I was expecting a visitor, so I signed up for a year. I tried it out right away, and I must say that I was hooked. The first week I was using it more than 5 times a day! All of a sudden my range of options was just so much larger. I have been creating bixi converts ever since.

  9. Très sympa! This is my “home” station pictured above, right beside Café Soufflé.

    While I haven’t made any fantastic couch-surfing opportunities while using BIXI, I’ve certainly explained the system to a number of strangers; both in english and my novice french.

    Shea and Eric said some great points. My most interesting conversations about the BIXI revolve around how the system affects our community. These talks have mainly been with local or visiting friends, but it has been a pleasantly surprising door to discussion on several topics.

  10. J’ai moi aussi expérimenté la même chose :))
    Encore aujourd’hui les gens m’abordent, me posent des questions, et je leur explique toutes les possibilités qu’offre Bixi.
    C’est vraiment un bon service, surtout maintenant que les bornes sont réparées ;))
    Voyons maintenant si Bixi me mènera à l’amour de ma vie ;))

  11. C’est marrant comme ce sentiment de convivialité avec le vélo en ville est international. Ici à Toulouse, France :), je vis la même chose. J’ai vraiment l’impression que la ville est un peu plus humaine, moins impersonnelle. Dans trois semaines je quitte la France pour m’installer à Montréal. L’une des première chose que je vais faire, c’est prendre mon abonnement annuel à Bixi. J’espère continuer à faire des rencontres à Vélo.

    A très bientot.

  12. I recently decided to learn french and get in shape. Bixi it is!! Thanks for the article!

  13. J’ai juste quelque chose à dire sur ton article … IT ROCKS ! Félicitations !

  14. un gros thumbs up pour l’article, which brought a wide smile to my face.

  15. …catching your last sentence, I d say that Bixi ne m’a pas vraiment conduit à l’amour de ma vie, plutôt le contraire: l’amour de ma vie m’a conduit à Bixi…

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