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Montreal to get first self-serve bike rental system


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MONTREAL - North America's first self-serve bike rental system will enter its pilot phase by September, says André Lavalée, Montreal's executive committee member in charge of transportation.

The system will feature public bike depots set up on sidewalks across the city. Users will be able swipe a credit card, rent a bike for a minimal fee, and then drop it off at a second depot near their intended destination.

At a press conference this afternoon, Lavalée told reporters he expects that Montrealers will be quick to embrace the idea of self-serve, short-term bike rentals.

"Given the hundreds of people arguing on sites like Facebook about the design of the Montreal bike, its components, and the lessons to be learned from other cities that have tried this, I think the project's going to be a resounding success," he said.

Paris, Lyon, Barcelona and a number of other European centres all have successful automated rental systems up and running. Montreal will welcome its first four bike depots this fall.

The depots will feature 10 bikes each and will be moved around the boroughs of Ville-Marie, Plateau Mont-Royal, and Rosemont-Petite-Patrie so that as many Montrealers as possible can try them out ahead of the project's full implementation, which will happen next spring.

Stationnements de Montréal, the company that runs many of Montreal's downtown parking lots, will be footing the $15-million bill for the project. Once it gets into full swing next year, Montrealers will be able to rent one of 2,400 bikes from any of 300 depots in the three aforementioned boroughs.

If the costs are low and the system is sensibly designed I can see that working well. Honestly though I'd prefer if these were free and it were a deposit rather than a payment.

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We had community-bikes like that at the University of BC, and I've heard there are cities that also do it. You just pick up a crappy bike at one of many spots (ours were painted stripey purple, so they're recognizable) and you drop it off somewhere else. They are all locked with key-locks, and for five bucks per year (I think that's how much it was) you got a key to the locks.

Neat system.

I'd love to see that in cities, but this Montreal-approach is also a beautiful step in the right direction.

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