Photo Credit: BIXI Montréal
Initial Research by: Desiree Theriault
Edited by: Samantha Miller & Nicole Brekelmans
Case study compiled in 2017
Project: Bixi Montréal
Type of Urban Strategy: Smart Cities, Sustainable Design
Type of Project: Bicycle Sharing System
Location: Montréal, Québec
Date Designed/Planned: 2009
Construction Completed: 2014
Designer: Michel Dallaire
BIXI Montréal is a bike sharing network that was designed by the City of Montréal and industrial designer Michel Dallaire. Blending the worlds of Bicycle and Taxi to create ‘BIXI’, the system runs throughout the City of Montréal and has stations at every point of interest with high population density. This allows Montréaler's to travel across the city, exploring destination to destination with each BIXI station that they encounter.
The project aims to enhance the current public transportation system by offering an environmentally-friendly method of transportation – bicycles. BIXI Montréal promotes bike-sharing to the rest of Canada, adapting its technology towards social, economic, sustainable, and environmental goals. Riders can bike around the city by renting the solar powered bicycles for $5 a day, $30 a month, or $89 a year.
PROJECT BACKGROUND AND HISTORY
The history of BIXI Montréal begins with the emergence of self-service bicycling networks in Europe. Michel Dallaire, the designer of the bicycle, thought about how he could improve the technology of the bike sharing system in Paris and create a better urban solution for active transportation – while maintaining a real sense of place, ease of access and the urban realm of the city. By 2009, Michel Dallaire’s idea was propelled into launch by the Public Bike System Company. The company provided the City of Montréal with the first large-scale bike sharing system, promising to be cheap and effective active transportation throughout all four seasons.
However, the strategies were easier said than done. The Public Bike System Company filed for bankruptcy in 2011 due to the lack of financing on the project and the necessities required to keep bicycles within the system. In 2014, the City of Montréal purchased the Public Bike Sharing Company assets and reformulated the bike sharing network under the Transportation Plan for the City of Montréal. BIXI Montréal became a response to accommodate the rising demand for better and cheaper mobility within the city.
Since the release of BIXI Montréal, the City of Montréal has seen a growth in active mobility throughout the city, a better cycling and pedestrian network and enhance ecological corridors.
GOAL OF THE PROJECT
The goal of BIXI Montréal is to enhance Montréal's public transit system by offering a sustainable active mode of mobility. The project aims to create a vibrant city that provides a better public realm for both pedestrians and cyclists, while also creating opportunities for the health and well-being of Montréalers without compromising the environment.
DESIGN, DEVELOPMENT, AND DECISION MAKING PROCESS
The design, development, and decision making of BIXI Montréal incorporated industrial designers, technology companies, and mechanical designers across Québec. Managed by the City of Montréal, the creation of BIXI began with the design of the bicycle itself. Designed by industrial designer Michel Dallaire, the utility bicycle features a lightweight unisex step-through frame, adjustable seat, strong aluminum body, and heavy duty tires to sustain throughout the seasons. The bicycles are fabricated in Saguenay, Québec by Cycles Devinci.
Following the BIXI bike design, the next phase of the project involved 8D Technologies and Robotics Design. The bike stations were designed by Robotics Design who created a modular bike dock with an auto-locking system to prevent theft. The stations blend seamlessly with the surrounding urban context – allowing for a more visually appropriate public realm. 8D Technologies provided technology and software to enhance the biking stations. The company designed the software for the docking stations and connected phone app – allowing users to connect to the stations wirelessly without any representative present. 8D Technologies also ensured that the system was effective and had a minimal impact on the surrounding environment, creating a technological system that runs on solar energy.
In 2014, BIXI Montreal launched over 450 stations and 5,000 bikes in Montréal, Longeuil and Westmount.
ROLE OF DESIGNERS
The challenges that faced the City of Montréal was creating a healthy and vibrant city that strived towards sustainable transportation options and reduced vehicular use. BIXI Montréal addresses these issues by providing an urban solution that decreases vehicular usage, improves the city’s networks, and enhances discoverability across the city of Montréal. The solution is a 100% solar-powered bike sharing system that allows Montréaler's and tourists to zip around the city on a budget.
GENESIS OF PROJECT
The original concept and design of BIXI came from industrial designer Michel Dallaire when he looked at how the Vélib bike sharing system in France could be improved. (Gagnon, 2012)
Addressing the issues of Canadian infrastructure and poor pedestrian and cycling circulation, Dallaire decided to adopt the bike sharing system into a Canadian urban strategy.
MAINTENANCE AND MANAGEMENT
The maintenance and management of BIXI Montréal are very minimal as the design by Michel Dallaire has created them into virtually indestructible bikes. The BIXI bike can log over 10,000 kilometers within the summer season without needing any air refills in the heavy-duty tires. The bicycles also have a durable aluminum frame to endure the harsh climates of Montréal and minimize impacts from long treks, potholes, and vandalism.
The BIXI bikes are available to Montréaler's throughout April to November, where each bike will undergo only two repairs. Due to their unique design, the bicycles go to a special facility named Cyclochrome that works with BIXI parts and technology. Cyclochome allows high school students to understand bicycle mechanics and teach them how to repair BIXI bicycles. During repairs, the BIXI bike may get refilled with air, a small mechanical tune-up, and ensure all brakes are working correctly.
The BIXI Montréal project was an initiative apart of the Transportation Plan for the City of Montréal. Launched in 2009, the initial program owned by the non-profit Public Bike System Company (PBSC) cost around $34.2 million. In 2014 onward, the project was handed off to the City of Montréal who revitalized the project for another $4 million. Currently (2017), BIXI Montréal strives on taxpayer money and has since cost a total of $62.2 million towards updates, better technology, design, more bikes, and new stations. (Guenette and Doucet, 2017)