Welcome to BIXI

Are we building cities for people or for cars?
~Jane Jacobs

I have never totally agree with Jane Jacobs’s vision of what a city should be: Her vision of high-density, highly concentrated cities is like a living hell to me, and my impression is that, for her, all cities should look like Manhattan; people cramming in high raises.

What I applaud of her vision is the pedestrian city, the city of parks and walkable avenues. I also think that any big city needs to cater to cars, AND public transit, AND pedestrians, AND alternative forms of transportation. There is no need to chose one over another, and I always tough that the cancellation of the Spadina Expressway and its branches was a huge mistake driven entirely by political, but not economical, social, or environmental reasons (Please moderate your hate mail, I have children reading this!).

The mere fact that megacities exist is antinatural. Such high concentration of people cannot be healthy, no matter how much environmental precautions are taken. Toronto likes to call itself a Megacity, but thank God is not, it is a very livable city, 2.5 Million people (aroung 6 in the GTA), with plenty of parks, ravines, rivers, bike lines, a not so good public transit system, and a not so good street/highway grid, BUT you can chose between a very livable downtown, an exciting midtown, and a familiar suburb, after all, Jane Jacobs also said that “the point of cities is multiplicity of choice”.

That is why I am impressed with Montreal’s new program: Today, at 11:00 EST, BIXI kicks off. The program is simple: You go to one of the 300 BIXI stations (BIXI=BIKE+TAXI), pay for a bike (first 30 minutes are free), ride it to your destination, and leave it in the nearest station. With 300 stations and 3,000 bikes just for starters, you would really have options.

bixiYou can also pay an annual fee of $78, taxes included, and ride unlimited. The bike looks cool, feels cool, and surely will improve your health. No more waiting for the bus, no more trying to squeeze in the subway: Take your bike and go!

These kind of simple ideas are what make a city works: To offer options, to let you chose your lifestyle, where you will raise your kids, and cater to your needs. I will be parking my car more often now that I have a choice (My famous bike was donated to one of my wannabe neohippie friends), and I think that is the way to change a city and its environment: person by person, ride by ride.


6 Responses to Welcome to BIXI

  1. […] Original post by mcyclops […]

  2. Jorge says:

    “and I always tough that the cancellation of the Spadina Expressway and its branches was a huge mistake driven entirely by political, but not economical, social, or environmental reasons”

    I, on the other hand, am convinced that it saved the city from becoming soul-less, decrepit, and unlivable, just like most other North American downtown cores.

  3. mcyclops says:

    Like Boston, Seattle, or Montreal? They have several highways but built in a way that does not destroy the landscape, i.e., tunnels! It is not necessary to destroy a neighbourhood to create infrastructure. How come the DVP, Allen Rd, and Black Creek Expressway did not have that effect? Gardiner, in the other hand, killed the waterfront forever…

  4. Jorge says:

    Tunnels are fine, but I don’t think the Spadina expressway was meant to be one. We agree on the Gardiner though!

  5. mcyclops says:

    But it could be one, instead of just cancelling, more options could be looked at. Even if I’d agree (I do not have the information on how a 100 wide highway not really in Toronto’s core would have destroyed its soul, but I can see some of the arguments to be reasonable) on that the Spadina Expressway was a bad idea as planned, it was not cancelled because social, economical, or environmental reasons: It was cancelled because Forest Hill people had enough money to stop the expressway to go through their neighbourhood, and that was my point.

    Anyway, you would be happy to know that I took my first BIXI yesterday for a ride, they are sleek, smooth, and sexy!

  6. Mat says:

    a city is a pretext for people to get together to join past and future, black and white. That’s why has to be crowded.

    In a small town you are who you are in a big city you can take different shapes and shadows this is more true than anywhere else in NYC.

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