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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Bye Bye Bixi

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I will miss you, Bixi
« I wept and on my knees I prayed that there be truth and there be light [and there be Bixi]. »
– Joel Gibb

The leaves fall,
the air crisps,
and the sun struggles desperately to keep us warm.

As the city prepares for its annual period of hibernation, so disappears the last remaining Bixis from our streets.

How will you and I survive without the one we’ve come to love?

To my father: Thank you for teaching me how to ride a bicycle.

To the city: You have really out done yourself this time; not only did you follow through with your engagement to encourage active means of transportation, you produced the sort of innovation that Montréal is known for but has, of late, sorely been lacking. And while I won’t think twice about denouncing the clichéd shenanigans at Hôtel de Ville, I must give credit when credit is due.

To Stationnement de Montréal: You have facilitated the so-called unholy union between bike and car. Like gay marriage before it, the skies did not crumble to the sea as a consequence.

To the development team: Congratulations – International fame and recognition! Bixi has flourished into a highly sought after export, made and manufactured in Québec; I have yet to see a better economic stimulus from the federal government

To the users who chose active transportation over the car: May you continue to live long, healthy lives in your skinny jeans.

To the motorists: Your patience was an indispensable virtue. I have witnessed the cyclists, too enamoured with their newfound mobility, riding the wrong way down the Main, during evening rushing hour, wearing headphones, listening to Peaches, whilst sending text messages. Motorists, you have proven that the car is not the untameable animal that many choose to make it out to be.

To the advantaged, residing near a Bixi station: We truly live in a great city.

To the disadvantaged: Hoping and praying that one day your Bixi may come, is futile. Only one way will guarantee results; you now have 5 months to make sure your newly elected leaders hear your message.

To my fellow man, the strangers on the street: Just because Bixi is gone, doesn’t mean that we can no longer strike up a conversation…or more. The city is but the interactions amongst its citizenry.

CBC Radio One (88.5 Montréal) Homerun : Bixi as a tool for socialising
CBC Radio One (88.5 Montréal) Homerun : Bixi as a tool for socialising

To the vandals and thieves: Whatever doesn’t kill Bixi only makes it stronger.

To Boston, London, and Ottawa: Welcome to the club!

To Paris: Our bike sharing system is better than your bike sharing system!

To the other municipalities of the World: Bikes are the new Black.

and finally,

To the MTQ: See! Alternative modes of transportation do actually work!

Is there anyone I’ve forgotten?

Until next year my Bixi compatriots.



  1. Well, I guess I’m not taking a trip to MTL next week to try Bixi then. :( Maybe I’ll bring my own on the bike train?

  2. Keep it up, Montreal! The better you look, the more shame you bring to the $#!+hole I live in (Toronto), the more likely Toronto will make an at least pale imitation of your cool.

  3. No, John Henry. There were still a few yesterday – my little Raleigh Sprite and I said goodbye to some local ones in Petite Italie – don’t think they have reached Villeray yet, alas!

    We had a bit of snow this morning; it has mostly melted now. Early this afternoon I’ll go out and run some errands on my bicycle. Very sad about winter coming and no bicycle for a few months. :-( (I ride most of the year but not in the worst winter weather).

  4. Aaah, Bixi. Ce n’est qu’un au revoir…

    You made me fall in love with bikes and my city all over again. You gave me a sense of freedom and community and ecological responsibility. You made Montreal a lot smaller, more convenient, and a lot more fun. See you next year!

    As for Toronto being a $#\+hole, hmm. I love Toronto, and my last trip there made me love it all the more. I ran into the Word on the Street book fair, wandered around your fabulous Chinatwon and Queen Street West and the Annex, saw the new Crystal (not so sure) and the new Museum station (like it), and took a fantastic ride on the 506 Carlton streetcar, chatting with the driver who loved everything streetcar. Now there’s a woman who’s found her dream job — a job not available to Montrealers. So while I certainly agree that Montreal is cooler than Toronto, they’re both great cities and the grass is pretty green in both cities depending where you look.

  5. Indeed the fact that Toronto has managed to keep most of its streetcar lines is a major point in its favour. Stupid to trash-talk other cities or places; we can learn from each other, whether from positive or negative examples.

    As for Bixi, arch-car apologist Lysiane Gagnon has actually found much to praise the Bixi scheme for in a recent Globe and Mail column.

    Of course she spoils it all at the end by pooh-poohing the idea of Montréal becoming a truly cycle-friendly city due to our weather and “many steep hills” (depends where one cycles – the worst I usually encounter is la Côte Berri, not hard at all on the Berri bicycle path, and I’m no athlete, nor so many years younger than she is). Nor do I have “exceptionally strong legs”! – though cycling does keep them limber. Gagnon’s surprisingly positive column links to her earlier anti-bicycle screed at the end.

  6. Whatever: I’ve lived in both, and Tokyo. There’s most to do in Tokyo, but Montreal has a unique charm. Toronto ain’t in the running. I’ll run it down all I like, having lived more than three years in each.

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