This time round, we’ve been in Montreal so far for nearly 3 weeks, and like true eco-nomads have been experimenting with all possible forms of transport. OK – not thought-powered helicopter, but quite a few.
Chapter one – the Bixi bike
The Bixi bike scheme is really pretty good. Firstly it’s not named after a politician (already a good start) but got its handle through a competition. The name is a combination of ‘bicycle’ and ‘taxi’, to illustrate how the bike’s generally used. Michel Gourdeau, who won the competition, got himself a Bixi pass for life.
It took us a bit of trial and error to understand the system and get it to work, but now we have it’s great. For example, you can stick your credit card in the machine, pay five Canadian dollars (about three pounds) and have unlimited use of any Bixi bike all day in 30-minute stints. There are loads of docking stations all over the place and they come in a Granny-style 3-gear model or a ‘sportive’ with all of 7 gears. You can also buy longer passes or become a member and have your own Bixi key.
What I particularly like about them is that people here use them like it’s no big deal. It’s often the quickest way to get from A to B. Kids in their early teens use them, seemingly without feeling uncool. The bikes, made in Quebec, are big and clunky, but they do the job. There are 5,000 of them in the city and it feels like a good number.
And they’re the only bikes we have available to us here since our temporary homestay landlords confiscated the bikes they’d lent us …
However, the scheme only operates from mid-April to mid-November. Did someone say something about snow in Canada?