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Montreal Exports Its Bike-Sharing Program

AUGUST 13, 2009, 7:31 AM

Montreal Exports Its Bike-Sharing Program

Ian Austen/The New York Times The bike-sharing system pioneered in Montreal will soon be used in Boston and London.

From the beginning, Montreal officials had ambitions for the new Bixi bicycle-sharing system that went beyond the borders of that Canadian city. On Wednesday, Gérald Tremblay, the Montreal’s mayor, announced that the Bixi system will be implemented in Boston and London.

It is not clear at this point if the roll-out in Boston — where local officials are mounting a push for more bike lanes as well — will be on the same scale as Montreal’s system, with hundreds of parking stations and thousands of bicycles. (An alternative model would be SmartBike D.C. in Washington, which uses a different docking technology and has only has 10 stations.)

Boston’s Metropolitan Area Planning Council confirmed that it has selected Bixi to put in place a bike-sharing program. But Amanda Linehan, a spokeswoman for the council, said that Boston and other municipalities must now negotiate contracts for the service.

In a statement, the Public Bike System Company, Montreal’s marketing operation for Bixi, indicated that the Boston system will initially offer 2,500 bikes at 290 stations in downtown Boston.

In England, Bixi’s partner, the Serco Group, said that it has a six-year contract to install 400 docking stations holding about 10,000 bicycles in central London.

Until now, the only other Bixi system was a modest, four-station demonstration project in Ottawa, which is about two hours by car from Montreal.

In selling Bixi, Montreal has emphasized that its solar-powered, WiFi-enabled docking stations are self-contained, eliminating the need for construction or utility work. The design also enables operators to remove the stations for winter, and to relocate them easily in accordance with demand.

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