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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

My Bike Month was all about BIXI

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Throughout June, in honour of Bike Month, I resolved to use my BIXI subscription as often as logically possible. Tonight, when I leave the Spacing office near Bathurst and Bloor and head toward my kids’ childcare around Bay and Wellesley, I will have made my 56th BIXI trip this month, and 213th since my subscription began last August. I know this because BIXI tracks all of my trips, and displays the stats on my user profile (see above).

This is one of the coolest things about BIXI, and also one of the least discussed. It’s also something I tell nonsubscribers about all the time, as part of my ongoing effort to get more people signed up. But that’s not my main mantra about BIXI. What I usually tell the doubters is this:

You’ll use it more than you think.

Really, I mean it. The only people I know who have no use whatsoever for a BIXI subscription are the ones who:

  • already bike everywhere; and/or
  • absolutely never come downtown.

I think many potential BIXI users assume that the service’s limited area excludes them from taking advantage of it. But I live in the Beaches, and I take my kids to school on the TTC every day, and I still found 56 reasons to ride a BIXI bike in this past month alone. Now, granted, my kids’ childcare, the Spacing office, the office of Precedent (the other magazine I work for), and most of the NXNE venues I played at or attended are all within BIXI’s boundaries. But that’s less special and fortunate than it sounds. A good friend of mine, who’s also a BIXI subscriber with kids, jumps out of the family car at Allan Gardens (mid-commute from Leslieville) and grabs a bike so he can zip to his office at King and University.

BIXI’s latest ad campaign is all about folding the service into potential users’ daily lives, but its approach focuses on mainly on leisure time activities: going to the movies, eating sushi, working out, going to shows. In my view, this focus misses out on a huge potential market: people like me who work downtown and make multiple stops in the core throughout the day. And although I and many of these users-to-be would benefit from the most-requested BIXI upgrades (a wider network, more bikes, more stations, an app to check bike status at the station nearest you), all of these things cost money that the service clearly doesn’t have. What it needs most of all is more subscribers, and for that, one simple and properly directed message would do:

BIXI. You’ll use it more than you think.



  1. I love Bixi.  I use it to do as much of my commute as I can, taking subway the rest of the way beyond Bathurst.  I also like the analytics their website provides… it’s kind of neat to see that my trips add up.

    With regard to the upgrades you mentioned, there is an app called Bixou that provides live status updates on bike/dock availability.

    My one complaint with Bixi (beyond wanting more bikes/docks) is that they don’t really engage with their users much through social media, etc. I think that’s an important part of building support for growth.

  2. Bixi may not have their own app but there is an iPhone app called Biximo that does exactly that; it finds your location and shows you all the bike stations and how many bikes and available empty docks there are at that station. I use it all the time!