Booming Globally, Bike-Sharing Spins Its Wheels in Montreal
“Today there are an estimated 639 bicycle-sharing schemes operating in 53 countries located in almost every region of the world, boasting a total of about 643,000 bicycles,” bike-sharing expert Peter Midgley writes in a new blog post for EMBARQ, a program of the environmental think tank World Resources Institute.
Thirteen years ago, there were just six bike-sharing systems operating in six countries: Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, and Portugal, with a total fleet of over 4,000 bicycles. The largest of these schemes was Copenhagen with 2,000 bicycles. Today, bike-sharing systems are zooming in popularity.
But one major North American city has not succeeded in establishing its bike-sharing system on a firm financial footing, writes Midgley, who worked as the Urban Mobility Theme Champion for the global Transport Knowledge Partnership, after a long career at The World Bank.
Five years after opening the Bixi bike-sharing system, the Montreal-based Public Bike System Company (PBSC) has accrued a debt of around $50 million.
On January 20 Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre announced that Bixi is insolvent and it has filed for bankruptcy protection.
The Bixi system looked good at the outset with its convenient payment dock and removable modules that made it easy to service the bicycles. The system was popular with cyclists, but it was plagued with problems.
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