You might be able to play a role in bringing a public bike-share program to Waterloo.
A University of Waterloo student group has prepared an online petition to bring bicycle-sharing to the UW campus. Click here to get to the University of Waterloo Bike Share Initiative. It's a rather nicely done website, with information about bike sharing, photos that look a lot like one might get with the co-operation of the media people at Montreal-based Bixi and a link to the actual online petition.
Don't worry, say the organizers, members of the Active and Community Transportation working group of the UW Sustainability Project, if you aren't a UW student or alumnus: the organizers are looking for a groundswell of support, and anyone who lives or works in the area of the university would presumably be allowed to take up an associate membership.
Not that bike-share has been a roaring success with Waterloo's biggest employer. A Bixi pilot project was launched at the Research In Motion Waterloo campus last year, with the suggestion that it would just be the foot in the door for a wider community bike-sharing program in the onetime intelligent community.
But I have tried repeatedly to learn from Bixi and RIM how well the bike-share program went and if it will be tried again in 2011, and the contacts on this have been amazingly quiet. In fact, Bixi won't talk about it because it's RIM's project, and RIM won't talk about it at all. In the news biz, silence usually means there's nothing positive to be said.
I have wondered what the obstacles might have been to the RIM Bixi experiment. After all, co-CEO Jim Balsillie is a bicycle enthusiast. You'd think there would be some energy behind the bike culture. And RIM, with its various buildings spread all over Waterloo (and Kitchener, for that matter), might be an ideal candidate for bike-connection between locations. Your thoughts on the subject are welcome.
In the meantime, the people at Bixi have sent press releases announcing that Ottawa is the next world capital to embrace Bixi. The National Capital Commission announced late this week that Capital Bixi will launch in May of this year. First phase will include 10 stations and 100 bikes scattered throughout the cities of Ottawa and Gatineau. The plan is to expand to 50 stations and 500 bikes.
Ottawa joins London (U.K.), Washington, Montreal, Melbourne, Minneapolis and Arlington, Va. in experimenting with Bixi. Toronto's Bixi group has the 1,000 memberships sold to launch its bike-share program this year (although they'd be happy to have you sign on here). Setting aside all my bias favouring bicycle-sharing, I find the entire venture fascinating because it is really quite a success story for a Canadian company. And, as sometimes is the case, the firm became a success outside of Canada first.
The upshot of it all will be, more bikes on the road. A good thing, in my view.