Eyes on the Street: Try a Bixi Bike on for Size at Union Square


A reader sends this photo taken on the west side of Union Square this morning. You’re looking at a temporary installation of a Bixi bike-share station. Bixi is one of three bike-share providers that have set up short demos this month at DOT’s invitation — the other brands are Eco-Trip and BCycle.

You can’t get the full bike-share experience without a whole network of stations, but if you want to see how the check-out mechanism works and get a feel for how these Bixi bikes ride, today’s demo will be open until 8 p.m. There are more Bixi and BCycle demos on tap for this week, including sites at Saturday’s final Summer Streets installment.

Bixi gobbled up a big slice of the urban bike-share market last week, when London and Boston both announced they would use the Montreal-based operator for their respective systems. If New York follows the lead of those cities and makes a serious commitment to bike-share, you may see thousands of these bikes on the street in the not-too-distant future.

After the jump: Guys in shorts set up the demo.


  • sharer

    David Byrne & JSK are out here now!

  • I’m tempted. But first get all the cars off the street.

  • Doug

    I can’t wait for this to become a full-blown reality in NYC. There are two things that limit my biking in the city. One is that from where I live in Brooklyn, it’s not that safe to ride. Now I’ll be able to take the subway into the city and ride around to the things I need to do. The other is that I’m worried about my bike getting stolen. This will solve that fear. Just lock it up at a station and forget about it!

    Bike sharing can not come to New York fast enough.

  • ddartley

    I tried it. I liked the bikes. Even if I didn’t, NYC needs bike share now.

  • jose

    my friend ANDY ate one!

  • Busy Bee

    After seeing Velib in Paris first hand, I think people here will be absolutely shocked at what a runaway success a comparable system in NY will be.

  • I \v/ NY

    i love bike sharing and think it has the potential to revolutionize how people get around in cities.

    if i understand correctly bixi and bcycle are essentially the same, just that bcycle has a basket and built in lock while bixi doesnt (IMO the lock and basket are very important).

    bixi is much more prepared for the demonstration with their traveling kiosk that helps sell their product so much better.

  • I \v/ NY

    one more thing… i am certain that bike sharing will put pressure on getting more bike centric streets and physically separated bike lanes because of the huge volume of people riding bikes. many of these new riders are less comfortable on bikes and will therefore demand the protection provided by cycle tracks. bike sharing expands biking beyond just the “cycling community” and mainstreams biking.

  • Moser

    Bixi will be at Bowling Green Noon-8 p.m. today (Friday)

  • Doug

    I think it’s safe to make some predictions about bike sharing in NYC, despite my belief that it will be a huge success.

    – The NY Post/Daily News will run stories of vandalized or stolen bikes.
    – Those papers and the local TV news stations will profile the first person seriously injured on one of these things, slanting the coverage to make it look like bike sharing is a death trap.

    Any others care to add their predictions about the all-too-dependable naysaying voice of the mainstream media?

  • I \v/ NY, these Bixi bikes I tried yesterday had a basket up front with a bungee cord. I put my shoulder bag in it and it stayed securely as I took a test drive.

  • Doug, don’t forget stories about the inevitable whining about parking spots being replaced with bike share stations. And complaints about bike share riders not wearing helmets.

  • Ken Campbell

    I was amazed in Montreal to see the Bixi stations everywhere. My favorite part is the flashing tail lights built into the frame. Bring it on, NYC.

  • Wow, that’s great news! Bixi has been very amazing to us Montrealers. Great way to get around the city and eco-friendly!

    Montreal has many bike paths at the heart of downtown and the structure of the city really allows for this kind of lifestyle. Drivers and cylcists tend to respect each other and traffic is simply much less crazy than New York City, so it’s been quite effective! It’s funny how people on Bixis recognize eachother, say hi with the bells on the bikes, talk to eachtoher at the stations…I love it, super friendly!

    I hope New Yorkers will also embrace this green initiative 🙂

    @ddartley I also really enjoy the bungee cord myself. I throw everything in there and never had any mishap.

    Before Bixis were launched in Montreal, I had the chance to take one for a spin, check out the solar-system generated stations and show people around my fav Montreal’s bike city routes.

    The video is available here for all you curious souls: http://bit.ly/ip8Zp

    So I hope you enjoy Bixi, and do let me know how it adapts to The Big Apple!



  • I \v/ NY

    yeah but the bungee cord thing in my opinion is inadequate especially when compared to the bcycle basket. i tried the bungee cord strapdown thing a week ago probably on one of those very bixi bikes when the demo was in portland. sure the basket is bulky looking but it is extremely useful. you could fit a small bag of groceries in the bcycle basket but you couldnt strap down the grocery bag on the bixi.

    doug, i guarantee you are correct, certain media outlets will have a field day the first time something negative happens with bike sharing.

    imo the helmets thing is a bit of an issue, but i dont see these bikes being used for high speed bike travel, you are mostly going to be traveling at about a running pace and runners dont wear helmets. plus your head is about the same height off the ground on a bike as it is when you are walking. and of course you could always strap a helmet onto your bag for the times you do use bike sharing.

  • gecko

    Sincerest congrats to Bixi and Montreal! and, to Geoffrey Barnett for the Shweeb human-powered monorail in New Zealand, . . . but, it is a shame that these things had to be developed elsewhere and that New York City appears incapable of rolling its own and not for lack of talent and resources; and, incapable of establishing leadership despite the terrific efforts and capabilities of Sadik-Khan and Bloomberg.

    “New Detroit” by way of Gotham would be a truly formidable engine for positive change locally and globally; and, still remains a substantial opportunity.

  • gecko

    There is a level of absurdity in establishing local multi-million dollar monopolies for goods and services produced elsewhere and better produced locally. It is bad economic sense. It is bad public policy.

    We have done that for CEMUSA with exclusive transportation and street advertising rights. It seems that we have done this for Kawasaki and Bombadier which build our million-dollar subway cars and trains. And, maybe those deals made good economic sense in the past but, it is really important to give significant weight to what can be done here and what we can do for ourselves.

    Now it looks like we are going to do the same with bicycle technology the type of readily accessible agile technology New Yorkers are best at easily demonstrated by New York’s $5 billion motion picture industry which is extremely good at building things — exemplified by the extraordinary sets and special effects of the recently finished $200 million film Sorcerer’s Apprentice and other large films — and, by-the-way, extremely dependent on good transportation.

    Unlike many of those in the financial industry, there are a lot of people in this town who can actually build things and it is about time this city learns to truly value what they can do, assist in cultivating their critical skills and incomes, and use them well. While these can-do people might not have a large presence at the fanciest hedge fund cocktail parties, this makes the best economic sense.

  • Anyone else see the Bixi truck blocking the Avenue A bike lane yesterday (sunday)? It was pretty lame, they had a big spot open.

  • The startup of the Bixi operation in Montreal was co-sponsored by Rio Tinto Alcan, a huge company that mines uranium and coal. It is named as the “title sponsor” of Bixi in Montreal.

    The operator and partner of Bixi in London is Serco.

    War Profiteer of the Month: Serco

    The Government Pension Fund of Norway, Excluded Companies

    Serco Nuclear Weapons

    Municipalities decide that bicycles are not a funding priority, and so in marches Cemusa, Clear Channel and JCDecaux… and now Serco.

    Sadly cyclists are mainly silent, e.g.: http://www.lcc.org.uk/index.asp?PageID=1469

  • gecko

    Cell phone technology including global positioning systems along with self-locking capabilities integrated within bicycles provides formidable security along with many other very valuable features and it is not clear that large, heavy, and expensive street structures are the best way for parking bikes.

  • gecko

    #19, Todd Edelman, Thanks! Had no idea the company behind Bixi is so bad.

  • gecko

    Tod Edelmen, Do you have any insight on why Rio Tinto Alcan or Serco would want to build bike parking facilities for public bicycle systems since it seems a huge departure from its normal business interests and expertise; especially since it is a coal company with expressed interests counter to going green?

  • Rio Tinto Alcan believes that a successful business strategy includes investing in the development of the communities where we live and work; helping them become vibrant, livable, prosperous, safe and sustainable.

    Through the Rio Tinto Alcan Canada Fund, Rio Tinto is committed to providing support for community-building initiatives which integrate environmental, economic and social considerations, and which meet the needs of the present while safeguarding our legacy for future generations. We are looking for projects that demonstrate innovation, collaboration, new learning, and inclusion. We want to fund ideas that have the potential for measurable progress toward local sustainability. We want to help make a difference for today and for the future.

    from http://www.riotintoalcan.com/ENG/ourapproach/1356_rio_tinto_alcan_canada_fund.asp

    Rio Tinto bought Alcan and I imagine part of the deal was to maintain its Canadian charity efforts.

  • Rob Cotter

    Rio Tinto/Alcan and Serco’s venture into cycling is about PR. In this case the PR is everything those corporations are not; clean, friendly and a positive contributor to the local communities. I believe this would fall into the definition of “Greenwashing”. So when these companies are brought up human rights violations, which happens on a regular basis, their intent is that people will have warm, fuzzy feelings about them from their cycling experience.
    Bike sharing is critically important but not at the cost of making global polluters look green.
    NYC should develop there own system anyway, as Montreal did.

  • gecko

    With only one to two percent bicycle ridership in this town the New York City bicycle industry may be poised to experience explosive growth with sales tax and income tax of goods and people working in the industry enough to offset and even exceed any infrastructure accommodation costs provided with public funds.

    Bicycle sales alone could easily ramp up to range between one hundred thousand to one million bicycles or more per year possibly exceeding those of the world’s largest bicycle companies.

    Agile adaptation to such rapid positively disruptive change would be an apt challenge for DoT commissioner Sadik-Khan and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

    Local agile industries such as New York’s motion picture industry and government services like New York City’s Department of Design, Construction and Department of Transportation, and even the New York Police Department could provide the local systemic infrastructure to accommodate, support, and encourage such rapid change; possibly serving as a replicable model for global dispersion by high margin high-talent consulting services developed locally in NYC here and now and virtually overnight.

    It should be obvious that allowing much of this extreme economic and human capital opportunity to be developed offsite does not make any sense and would be a tragic lost opportunity.

  • gecko

    #25 gecko continuedm . . . forgot to mention real estate values perhaps an even greater highly substantial part of the local economic infrastructure.

  • gecko

    Wherein public and private library systems (such as university college libraries) have the information technology to provide similar services required to check in and check out books they may be readily adapted to assist bike share providing for a easy-to-develop low-cost bike systems with additional revenue streams, increased use and advanced of library systems all within an extremely consilient framework.

  • gecko

    #27 gecko (correction, amplification)

    Wherein public and private library systems (such as university college libraries) have the information technology to provide similar services required to check in and check out books they may be readily adapted to assist bike share providing for easy-to-develop low-cost bike systems with additional revenue streams, increased use, and advancement of library systems all within an extremely consilient framework.

    Simple implementations could include bike-lock keys embedded in books (such as David Gordon Wilson’s “Bicycle Science”. Advanced implementations could likely include low-cost radio frequency identification (rfid) devices and or electronic keys sent over wireless systems.

    The United States Postal Service which tracks mail and packages via barcodes, could also be employed in a similar capacity on a national scale especially the with implementation of low-cost rfids.

  • Great! Not only can they track me by recognizing my face on closed circuit cameras and by where I swipe my Metrocard. Now they’ll also be able to track me by scanning my bike’s barcode or RFID tag when I lock up!

  • gecko

    #29 Cap’n Transit, “Great! Not only can they track me . . . ”

    Oh don’t fret!

    You just have to stay out of the system, off the internet, pay with cash, where a funny disguise, etc., etc., etc.

  • gecko

    . . . toss your cell!

  • Bixi has now shut down most of it stations till May next year. But apparently it’s so popular, that some stations are being kept on, perhaps till the first snow falls.

    Montrealers just wont let Bixi go which is why the system has managed over million trips this summer past, covering 3.5 millions Kilometers, and why Bixi is a stand out success.

    They’ve also recently added a 7 speed model to the standard 3 speed version which everyone is curious to try before the bikes are put to bed, for Montreal is not completely flat by any means.

    I’m very anxious to know how these Bixis went safety-wise. City cycling is often touted as very dangerous. Perhaps the summer of Bixi will give the lie to that idea

    In the meantime, the supposed danger of cycling in general is why Australians are not allowed to decide for themselves whether to wear a helmet or not. They must, period, and shut up about it!

    That’s the law and it may also be the reason why neither Australia nor Vancouver, which has a similar plodding helmet law, may never get more than token Bike Share schemea.

    True, a contract has just been signed to bring Bixis to Melbourne, but we shall see if they can find anyway around those helmets.

    Dispensing a sterilized, tested, helmet on the street, along with the bike, is just not possible. Expecting riders to bring their own, or buy one for the ride, seems quite unlikely.

    Here’s a movie report of what Bixi faces in a helmet city.


Bixi Bankruptcy: What Does It Mean for American Bike-Share?

The Montreal-based equipment supplier for several American bike-share systems, including Citi Bike, filed for bankruptcy protection yesterday. It’s unclear exactly how the restructuring or sale of the company known as Bixi will play out, but the bankruptcy filing could accelerate the transition to more robust and reliable hardware and software for Citi Bike and other […]

Bike-Share Hero: Montreal’s Solar-Powered “Bixi” System

Via the Bike-Sharing Blog, this vid shows a modular bike-share station getting set up in what must be record time. It’s part of a trial system in Montreal called Bixi (contraction of "bike" and "taxi," rhymes with pixie), which launched last month and is set to ramp up with 2,400 bikes next April. Bike-Sharing Blog’s […]

Thursday: Bike-Sharing Launches in Denver

Earth Day is coming around the bend, and cities are timing their new green initiatives to coincide with the public’s heightened eco-consciousness. Here’s one we’re partial to: In Denver, Mayor John Hickenlooper and city leaders are using the occasion to launch their 500-bicycle, 50-station bike-share system. It will be the largest bike-share system in the […]

Citi Bike Draws the Curious, From NYC and Beyond

It wasn’t yet 11:00 when I got to the mammoth bike-share station on Eighth Avenue at 31st Street, which sits along the protected bike lane in front of the Post Office across from Penn Station and Madison Square Garden, but I hadn’t unpacked my camera before a Citi Bike user pedaled by. For the next hour […]

Video: A View of NYC Cycling From Montreal

Noah and I are busy with meetings and the Stop Speeding Summit today, so posting may be a little light until the afternoon. I do have a couple of items to share, including this short video from EcoMobility.tv. I know the title is over-the-top and there’s some egregious wrong-way riding, but I like the outsider’s […]