Bixi bikes in Ottawa

Purple flower

The Ottawa area now has four bicycle rental kiosks – two in Gatineau, and two on the Ottawa side. The company that provides them is called Bixi and they are priced to encourage brief usage: free for 30 minutes, $1.50 for the next thirty, $3.00 for the next thirty, and then $6.00 for each half hour after that. To take one out, you swipe your credit card. It charges the appropriate amount when returned to another station. Montreal has a system with the same bikes: 3,000 of them at 300 locations. The Montreal system apparently cost $15 million, and is expected to pay itself off with user fees.

The stations are outside the Portage Complex and near the Civilization Museum in Gatineau, as well as beside the ByWard Market on Sussex near York and on the other side of the Canal at Elgin and Queen.

I want to try doing a rally between all four, making each trip in less than half an hour, so as to make it all free. Going from Portage to the Civilization Museum would be a breeze. From there to the ByWard stop would also be pretty easy, across the Alexandra Bridge. The trip between the Ottawa stations would be short, but going from the Elgin station back to Portage would be the trickiest part to achieve in half an hour, though still very possible.

The system should be very useful for both visitors and residents. I hope people treat it with respect.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

13 thoughts on “Bixi bikes in Ottawa”

  1. I think perhaps you have missed something in the way fees are charged. At least in montreal, there is a 5$ per day subscription fee (there are discounted rates by week or by month) on top of the per hour fees.

  2. Are helmets available? If not, there could be a liability problem for the company.

    Just wait until someone gets seriously injured while riding one of their bikes without a helmet. They could face a lawsuit alleging that providing bikes but not helmets endangers people.

  3. Being able to sue someone over your personal injury has got to be one of the worst things about contemporary society. How about “take charge of your own life”?

  4. Well, it does keep brake manufacturers on their toes.

    For the bikes, perhaps they could include some kind of waiver in the terms of use: “If you choose to use this bicycle without a helmet, any worsening of injuries incurred upon you is your responsibility alone.”

  5. The safety page on the Bixi website says this:

    “In Quebec, cyclists are not required to wear a helmet. In Ontario, cyclists under 18 years of age are required by law to wear a helmet when riding on public roads.

    Wearing a helmet reduces the risk of head injury and can even prevent death. We strongly recommend that you wear a helmet while cycling.”

  6. A bicycle built for sharing

    All eyes are on a pilot project designed to promote green travel downtown

    By Cassandra Drudi, The Ottawa Citizen
    June 9, 2009

    OTTAWA — I’m cycling east on Rue Laurier in Gatineau, coming up to the light at Rue Elisabeth-Bruyère when a young woman crossing the street spots me on my silver bike.

    “How does it ride?” she asks, after taking her headphones out.

    I’ve been on this step-through commuter for about two minutes, having just picked it up at a bike-share station by the Museum of Civilization. I’ve only just figured out that the gears change with a grip-shifter on the right handlebar.

    An authoritative answer on my part right now seems a bit premature.

    “Not bad,” I say. “It’s pretty good.”

    “Interesting,” she says, then thanks me before popping the bud back in her right ear and continuing on her way.

    I pick up my pace and continue east, turning right to cross the river at the Alexandra Bridge, the wooden slats of its bicycle and pedestrian crossing rattling under the wide tires as I make my way from one province, and one bike-share station, to another.

  7. “As well as the bike-share station at Laurier and Victoria streets in Gatineau, there are stations at Promenade du Portage and Laval Street in Gatineau, Sussex Drive and York Street and Elgin Street and Lawrence Freiman Lane, near the National Arts Centre, where users can pick up and return their rides.

    The bikes are utilitarian commuters, with a step-through frame that could accommodate a full skirt, and a wire basket in front of the handlebars that fit my laptop bag without a problem. A sturdy elastic holds bags in place, and the extra weight on the front had no noticeable effect on the steering.

    It’s a solidly-framed bike with three mid-level gears up to the task of running errands in the city or pedalling along pathways at a respectable pace.

    Outfitted with a bell and flashing front and back lights powered by pedalling, the only safety item missing is a helmet.”

  8. There are various ways of freeing up roads. Investment in public transport—of which there has been a great deal—is one. Cycles are another, though they are costly too. Londoners can pick up one of 8,300 “Boris bikes” from a rack of their choice and drop it back at another. It is cheap for users—the first half hour is free and the next hour costs £4 to encourage commuter use, after which charges rise sharply—but expensive for taxpayers. They have shelled out slightly more than half of the total cost of £120m, with Barclays Bank, the sponsor, covering the rest. The average cost per bike is £14,460.

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