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Montreal's Public Bikes To Use Web, RFID, Solar

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the all-the-green-words dept.

Transportation 146

Ian Lamont writes "Montreal is preparing to launch a Web- and RFID-enabled public bike system that allows residents and visitors to rent bicycles at special depots scattered throughout the city. Using a Web site, riders can check out a real-time inventory of available bicycles at the depot locations. At the depots, a solar-powered base station will process credit cards or member cards. The bike docks use RFID, and the system is supposedly easy to install and maintain. A pilot program will launch in September with four bike depots."

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Sweet... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23892161)

Putting people on moving vehicles and combining it with stuff that takes their attention off of steering it...

Re:Sweet... (1)

McGiraf (196030) | more than 6 years ago | (#23892427)

duh?

Wait until you understand what you read before posting.

mmmmmk (0, Troll)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 6 years ago | (#23892181)

ah huh, and I'm sure they won't use the tags to track anyone ever. Nope, I mean all they have is their first and last name and probably address too from the credit card data and a unique identifier to identify them. I mean they're not going to put sensors everywhere in the city to track them everywhere but I bet they could sell the data of routes people take and sell the stats to businesses. That or follow "suspicious" people who haven't even committed a crime.

Re:mmmmmk (4, Insightful)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 6 years ago | (#23892201)

I mean they're not going to put sensors everywhere in the city to track them everywhere but I bet they could sell the data of routes people take and sell the stats to businesses. That or follow "suspicious" people who haven't even committed a crime.

I mean, nobody who is about to commit a crime is going to make sure they aren't traced by stealing a bike or maybe using a false credit card or possibly thinking for three seconds before they commit the crime.

If it's a rental vehicle, it's no different from a taxi.

You can bet they will be tracking everyone with it, but so what?

Re:mmmmmk (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 6 years ago | (#23893111)

If it's a rental vehicle, it's no different from a taxi.
The difference is the credit card.

Taxis are usually cash transactions, at least in the US. I travel by taxi and I travel anonymously.

Unless they start putting facial recognition cameras in taxis.

Re:mmmmmk (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 6 years ago | (#23894763)

Up here in Ottawa, the Tory douchebags passed a bill to install surveillance cams in taxis, "to protect patrons and drivers" they say.

Knowing the average IQ of a taxi business owner/manager, I can guarantee you these will be misused in every way imaginable. For entertainment (check out the jugs on that one), for profit (thank you mr crooked cop), or even to blackmail people (who's that woman you were with - not your wife!).

Frankly, I think we should revert to times past, when people weren't so paranoid and we could all go on with our lives without the government staring up everyone's ass.

Re:mmmmmk (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23892227)

The thing about this tracking however, is that it's opt-in. If you don't like them knowing where you'll be taking their bike, don't rent one and get on the bus instead. Far less personal information traded with the bus, especially if you pay per ride in cash. But having other people using the bikes is just fine for the bus goers. It means the buses will be potentially less crowded.

Great plan to catch all the criminals! (1)

McGiraf (196030) | more than 6 years ago | (#23892437)

Yes!, and then lock the doors on the bus and drive to the nearest prison! all the non-criminal will be on the bikes! wow! great plan!

Re:Great plan to catch all the criminals! (2, Funny)

aliquis (678370) | more than 6 years ago | (#23892821)

lol.

And then the terrorists suicide bombs the bus all they will do is to bomb themselves! Omg the precious virgins!

Re:mmmmmk (1)

chriscoolc (954268) | more than 6 years ago | (#23892283)

They ought to have tracking stations everywhere, so that whenever you blow past a stop sign or red light, the front wheel locks up solid.

Re:mmmmmk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23893153)

Actually, that would be a good thing because I'm really tired of all the assholes on the street with their bikes. Here in Montréal it's really a free for all. Almost no one on bike stop at red lights and a lot of people ride on sidewalks or the wrong way of the street. Of course this kind of annoy car drivers and they vent their frustration by being very aggressive to cyclists.

Re:mmmmmk (1)

Gewalt (1200451) | more than 6 years ago | (#23894499)

That's rather unfortunate for you. But a cyclist is a pedestrian, and they ALWAYS have the right of way. Car drivers can go drive on an interstate (or whatever they call those in canada) if they don't like having to share the road.

Re:mmmmmk (1)

ATMD (986401) | more than 6 years ago | (#23894619)

Cyclists are counted as pedestrians in Canada?

At least where I'm from, (the UK), it's illegal to cycle on the pavement. By law, cyclists have to share the road with motorists and follow all the same rules. Of course this isn't necessarily a good law - see my post below.

Re:mmmmmk (1)

ATMD (986401) | more than 6 years ago | (#23894599)

Maybe the cyclists have to do this sort of thing to avoid getting killed by unfriendly motorists? You take every chance you have to get ahead of the traffic, or better yet out of its way entirely. You take your life in your hands if you don't.

There's been a bit of discussion about this in London since David Cameron, (the leader of the main opposition party), was caught cycling the wrong way down a one way street. Of course many people had a go at him for it, but cycling organisations defended him for the very reasons I have given. It's a jungle out there.

Re:mmmmmk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23892307)

OMFG!!!! They're totally going to catch you cheating on your boyfriend with his bad-boy goateed identical twin brother.

Re:mmmmmk (3, Insightful)

Titoxd (1116095) | more than 6 years ago | (#23892425)

I think they're most interested in tracking the bikes themselves so they don't get stolen.

Re:mmmmmk (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23892851)

That, and if anyone thinks that every bus, train, and probably even every cab (even though they're private) in the greater San Francisco area aren't carefully tracked, you're dreaming. This is no different. It's just individual bikes, rather than a group transit.

Re:mmmmmk (4, Insightful)

Propagandhi (570791) | more than 6 years ago | (#23892477)

So you want a public bike rental system which doesn't keep records? Good luck with that.

Re:mmmmmk (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23892481)

What's your point? They can also track rental cars and car-shares, as well as transit cards, airline tickets, purchase histories, library books, medical records, ip addresses, etc... This is a simple fact of the technological, networked society we live in. We can't avoid bicycles, cars, trains, planes, stores, libraries, hospitals and computers because of it - we just have to try and find our way to craft a society in which these abilities are not abused.

Re:mmmmmk (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23892499)

I have an idea. Let's all buy these big metal boxes that do not have RFID but are visible from satellites in outer space and often have multiple cell phones in them at all times. We can drive them around all day. Nobody will see us then at all. All we would need to do to make this work is to find some dead animals that have been stuck under ground for thousands of years and process them into black goo. We can base our entire society on it and then we can start wars by convincing TV viewers that everything is okay because that black goo can also be made into products that have an endless shelf life. This is going to be a Good Thing because it will help us be more busy, and when we get busy we need convenience. Some say that we should not be so thrilled by all of this convenience but I've been too busy to think about why these people would say such things. I'd rather spend my time posting to slashdot that RFID should be avoided in order to protect the black goo industry.

Re:mmmmmk (1)

JohnSearle (923936) | more than 6 years ago | (#23892655)

I'm not entirely sure what you're getting at with your sardonic comment...

If we don't want our bikes to be tracked by RFID, then the only other choice is to support the oil industry?

Personally I don't mind the idea of having the bikes tracked using RFID. As long as the information was being used for good purposes, then all is well. RFID could prevent bike thefts, help city planners choose locations for new bike paths, allow for a web-based system to automatically let users know where bikes are available (and the number of them), etc.

Although I don't have any data to back this up, I would perhaps believe that the Canadian public (of which I am one) are far less skeptical of our government. I tend to believe that the government would put this data to good use, as opposed to selling it to the highest corporate bidder.

- John

Re:mmmmmk (2, Insightful)

Propagandhi (570791) | more than 6 years ago | (#23892685)

"Tracked" by RFID? Do you know anything about RFID? It sucks balls for tracking things, especially outdoors... TFA suggests (quite logically) that the RFID only detects if the bike is in the rack. I swear, libertarians see RFID and they assume it's already measuring their heartbeat or reading their mind...

Re:mmmmmk (2, Interesting)

JohnSearle (923936) | more than 6 years ago | (#23892909)

"Tracked" by RFID? Do you know anything about RFID? It sucks balls for tracking things, especially outdoors... TFA suggests (quite logically) that the RFID only detects if the bike is in the rack. I swear, libertarians see RFID and they assume it's already measuring their heartbeat or reading their mind...
A couple points...

First, the article claims that the technology will be used to help monitor traffic usage. One could assume that this was merely at the docking stations, but it could be used outside of it as well.

Second, RFID technology has an operational distance of a few meters, so installing monitoring equipment along side bike paths would be a way to 'track' movements of bikers. I'm not saying cover the entire city, but portable equipment might be moved around, or permanent monitors placed along bike paths could be used to help generate useful data, and potentially track individuals.

And third, I'm not a libertarian, so your over generalizations are useless here. I was actually replying in part to the OPs post in which he suggested the technology would be used to track individuals' movements. My point was that whether this is the case or not, I believe that the government is responsible enough, and the data useful enough, so that it is unnecessary to become overly worrisome.

- John

Re:mmmmmk (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23892605)

There must be some system implemented for preventing the bikes from getting stolen. We have a similar system in Vienna, Austria; when it first started off a couple of years back, the bikes were chained onto bicycle racks and could be unlocked like a shopping trolley with a 2 Euro coin (which would be refunded as soon as the bike was returned to a rack again). However within a couple of weeks virtually all bikes had been stolen and sold in other countries. The system was later reimplemented using credit card verification, and now works quite successfully.

I'm sure the people in charge of this project in Montreal would have looked at examples from other cities where these systems already exist, and deemed this sort of protection necessary, there's no need to get all worked up about it being some huge conspiracy to track citizens around the city, after all, it's mostly used by people enjoying a quiet stroll around the city on a nice day, I doubt much confidential information can be extracted by tracking bikes driving through parks.

Re:mmmmmk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23892789)

I think if you fear for your privacy (wether that fear is realistic or not I leave to you people) you just shouldn't use it and buy your own bike.

Re:mmmmmk (3, Informative)

a10_es (579819) | more than 6 years ago | (#23892861)

A similar system has been in place in Barcelona for a couple of years now, it's called bicing [bicing.com] .
The system doesn't explicitly track the bikes, but knows on which station is each bike, or if it is in use, which user has it.
The most you could get is a database of points between which each user moves. For example, I mostly move between two stations: one next to the train station and one next to my working place.
The linking between the bike and the user is to enforce a maximum time of use, after which an economic penalty occurs.
I think two sets of RFIDs are in place. One on the user cards and one on the bikes. When you want a bike, you swipe your card in front of a terminal and the system links a bike to you and tells you which one to pick. However, when you return a bike, you only place it in it's "cradle", since the bike ID is linked to you.

Re:mmmmmk (2, Insightful)

barthrh2 (713909) | more than 6 years ago | (#23893145)

Why is everyone so concerned about people knowing where they go? Who cares? You went to work. Don't care. You went shopping. Don't care. You went to a strip joint. Still don't care. Gay bathhouse, don't care. Perhaps those so concerned with being tracked are actually those with the greatest interest in the lives of others.

Re:mmmmmk (3, Funny)

dave420 (699308) | more than 6 years ago | (#23893159)

I know! Next they'll make us put unique identifiers on our cars that can be automatically read from a distance! Where will the madness end?!?

power (4, Interesting)

weirdcrashingnoises (1151951) | more than 6 years ago | (#23892211)

they should just have capacitors (or whatever) on/in the bikes that store up energy whenever brakes are used, then when the bike is returned, all the bikes all stored energy can be released back onto the grid, perhaps which could then be transfered as credit or whatever and give a discount for renting the bike.

heck, maybe if u ride enough you could make money by way of power generation

yes thats all probably ridiculous, but it's 3am so idfc lol

Re:power (2, Funny)

atarione (601740) | more than 6 years ago | (#23892421)

that is a pretty good idea but it seems like a real long extension cord might be better (and it is only 1 am here =p)

Re:power (4, Informative)

Kjella (173770) | more than 6 years ago | (#23892529)

KISS and Keep It Cheap.

Some of the biggest issues with public bikes is vandalism, people not returning the bikes or plain old carelessny. Attaching some probably expensive power generrator thingie to the bikes? Bad idea. At a time it was so bad here, they considered making it members only. Not that membership involved much more than basicly getting your personal card, but it'd ruin the use for tourists and such. In the end we didn't have to, but you call tell by the bike type what it's all about. Cheap, sturdy bike with no gears designed for moving in the flat city only, it's as stripped as it gets.

Re:power (2, Interesting)

twig_nl (906935) | more than 6 years ago | (#23892955)

Cheap, sturdy bike with no gears designed for moving in the flat city only, it's as stripped as it gets.

This might make some sense when traveling east-west, but north-south Montreal is far from being a 'flat city', particularly downtown (in the Ville-Marie borough, where one of the four pilot depots is planned). Unless people can shift down to climb hills more easily, won't all the bikes end up at the southernmost depot?

Re:power (3, Interesting)

a10_es (579819) | more than 6 years ago | (#23893229)

This effect has been noticed in Barcelona.
Despite have a simple gear mechanism (I think it's this one [wikipedia.org] , with 3 settings), the higher areas tend to have no bikes and the lower ones no empty spaces to leave them.
However, the bikes are distributed regularly using vans.

Re:power (1)

ghostlibrary (450718) | more than 6 years ago | (#23893821)

> won't all the bikes end up at the southernmost depot?

Yes, they will. In Paris, they have trucks that regularly returns the bikes uphill. It's like a brilliant fusion of cycling and mass transport. Riders go downhill, and bikes get batch-shipped back up.

Re:power (3, Interesting)

varcher (156670) | more than 6 years ago | (#23894063)

To be honest, they have introduced a credit system. Whenever you leave a bike on an uphill depot, you get credited of 15 unmetered minutes for this rental, or any further one. This works only for year-long subscribers, not daily tickets.
 
The mini-trucks are gas powered, and "eco friendly". Supposedly.

Re:power (1)

failedlogic (627314) | more than 6 years ago | (#23894155)

I used to race bikes competitively and still do a lot of races. My bike is close-to $3,000. I prefer to ride it over the "cheaper" bikes as its lighter, faster and more agile. Were it not for very aggressive drivers on the road, in a city section I can usually keep pace with cars. IMO, having bikes as a main transportation for the physically able would reduce waist-lines and dependency on oil. It does mean people need to live closer to work and shopping.

The biggest problem with expensive bikes, and the reason I'm posting as a reply to you thread, is that I saw the word vandalism. For me, the problem is having the bike turned into a "Stolen Good". Its very difficult to leave a bike in a secure location - chained or not. You really need to take it in the building. The problem that needs to be focused on is reducing bicycle theft.

Re:power (2, Funny)

astrosmash (3561) | more than 6 years ago | (#23892609)

they should just have capacitors (or whatever) on/in the bikes that store up energy whenever brakes are used
Great idea! We just need figure out how the "or whatever" is going to work.

heck, maybe if u ride enough you could make money by way of power generation
maybe

yes thats all probably ridiculous, but it's 3am so idfc lol
totally

They only get a few months.. (5, Insightful)

QuantumTheologian (1155137) | more than 6 years ago | (#23892255)

I'm just guessing, but the bicycle may not be the best means of transportation in the winter, particularly in Montreal.

Re:They only get a few months.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23892293)

I know it's Canada, but they do shovel the streets... particularly downtown

Re:They only get a few months.. (4, Insightful)

Media Tracker (455903) | more than 6 years ago | (#23892353)

the bicycle may not be the best means of transportation in the winter, particularly in Montreal.

I know it's Canada, but they do shovel the streets... particularly downtown

They do indeed shovel the streets here, they shovel all the streets, but it still remains extremely slippery. It's quite a dangerous endeavour to ride bike in Wintertime, and only bike nuts and downtown bicycle couriers do it. Your wheels may suddenly just jerk sideways and completely slip away from under you, slamming you in the ground.

Besides, dangerous or not, riding a bike by minus 10, minus 20 is just very damn uncomfortable. At these temperatures, you already need to dress up considerably just to step outside. To ride a bike, you need double the insulation because of the wind, especially on your face and hands. And pedalling with winter boots on just isn't fun.

So, no. Montrealers in general don't bike in the Winter.

Re:They only get a few months.. (1)

matt4077 (581118) | more than 6 years ago | (#23892509)

They have bikes like these in most large cities here in Germany. Seems like it's quite successful since the program has been going for five years or more. They do collect them in the winter, though.

Re:They only get a few months.. (2, Insightful)

slash.duncan (1103465) | more than 6 years ago | (#23892639)

> It's quite a dangerous endeavour to ride bike
> in Wintertime. Your wheels may suddenly just
> jerk sideways and completely slip away from
> under you, slamming you in the ground.

I used to ride in Lincoln, Nebraska, when I was in college there. It's not quite as bad as much of Canada probably, but there was certainly snow, and I remember riding in traffic-and-salt-slush. It was a street/racing 14-speed too, not a mountain bike or the like. One just had to be rather more careful. You get used to it.

I'd still consider doing it now, too, but would want a knobby-tire mountain bike at least, not a 1.25" 100 PSI smooth tire.

I wonder if they have studded bike tires...? Seems that'd be the way to go.

> Besides, dangerous or not, riding a bike by
> minus 10, minus 20 is just very damn uncomfortable.

You can always add more layers, and that's what I'd do, too, tho it wasn't quite that cold, maybe 20F, -7C (ish). I'd wear a sweat shirt, a windbreaker, a sweater, and another windbreaker, then sometimes a coat on top if it were really cold but it would always come off after a few minutes of riding. Jeans and long underwear, snow boots. As I road, first the coat if I wore one would come off, then the sweater (take off windbreaker and sweater, put back on windbreaker, then the windbreaker, then sometimes the inner windbreaker as well, or keep it but doff the sweat shirt, depending on the wind. Once one got riding, the single layer tended to be enough.

But I'm in Phoenix, now. Winter's no big deal, but summer is another thing entirely. Try riding in the hot sun when it's 115+F 46+C in the shade! You can't peal off more layers when you get down to skin, shorts and tank! I did it a year or so, but ride the bus or stay inside in the A/C during the day now. That said, the key is staying hydrated -- your clothes too. A wet shirt and hat is a personal portable swamp cooler, and if you rewet them every few miles and take care to keep drinking and eating enough salt to keep up your electrolytes, yes, you /can/ still ride in that heat! I know because I've done it.

'Round here, it's not even summer until it's hitting triple digits F (38C). We read the news about people dieing in "heatwaves" of a "mere" 90-some degrees F (35-ish C) highs... and don't know whether to laugh or cry or just shake our heads. Some days here in the summer, that's lower than our LOW for the day, with a temp that may barely break 100F/38C for an hour or two, about 6 or 7 in the morning! And people are DYING from those "heat waves" that wouldn't even be summer here, in this metropolis of over four million people? WTF?

"Phoenix, the city that air conditioning built!" Seriously, I'm sure the population would only be perhaps a third what it is (but that'd still be greather than a million people), without A/C.

"You know, they tell you not to die in the summer here in Phoenix, because it's late September or early October before you figure out whether you're in hell or not!" =8^)

Re:They only get a few months.. (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 6 years ago | (#23893327)

Yes there exist studded bike tires, I used them this last winter for the first time ever but we got very little snow and cold so it was more annoying than helpful because it put up quite a lot more resistance.

I'd still prefer a trike recumbent :)

http://www.kmxus.com/models/venom/ [kmxus.com]
I'd prefer something with big wheels for speed, don't look very winter friendly but I guess you can change tires...

http://www.kmxus.com/models/typhoon/ [kmxus.com]
Cheaper one with smaller tires.

But there are lots of manufacturers, nothing special with KMX.

Re:They only get a few months.. (1)

PMBjornerud (947233) | more than 6 years ago | (#23893097)

They do indeed shovel the streets here, they shovel all the streets, but it still remains extremely slippery. It's quite a dangerous endeavour to ride bike in Wintertime, and only bike nuts and downtown bicycle couriers do it. Your wheels may suddenly just jerk sideways and completely slip away from under you, slamming you in the ground.
Dress for the occation:
http://www.icebike.org/Equipment/nokian296.htm [icebike.org]

You NEED studded tires if you're going to bicycle on ice, bike nut or not. They're not expensive and will absolutely reduce the risk of having an accident.

Re:They only get a few months.. (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 6 years ago | (#23893311)

As a nerd recumbent bikes intrest me, but as a Swede trikes intrest me even more, eventually.

I can't decide because I want a fast and technically advanced bike, but a trike would be so awesome during winters because yes, you may slide, but you're not very likely to tilt over and hurt yourself.

There are also some recumbent bikes with windshields as addons and I guess those may help a lot during cold winters if you don't want to freeze your nose.

A bunch of trikes can be seen here: http://home.mindspring.com/~kb7mxu/ [mindspring.com]

Re:They only get a few months.. (1)

senor_burt (515819) | more than 6 years ago | (#23894307)

Of course, no one bothered to point this out to the idjit mayor Tremblay, who decided to invest in building a permanent bike path through the downtown core, which halves parking on a busy main street (de Maisonneuve), while increasing the snow removal costs (a specialized snow plough has to remove the snow from this bike path throughout the winter)... and at the same time, manged to somehow cause massive structural damage to one of the city's underground metro stations. This bike idea makes sense in the summer/spring/fall, but not our bloody awful winters. It also might make sense in those Caribbean cities Tremblay is so fond of visiting for 'ideas' on tax payer dollar, too.

Re:They only get a few months.. (4, Funny)

Red Dwarf (82569) | more than 6 years ago | (#23892341)

Not for too long with global warming!

Re:They only get a few months.. (2, Insightful)

HJED (1304957) | more than 6 years ago | (#23892435)

Yes, then they will have to wear even warmer clothes seeing as global warming will cause an ice age

Global warming in Montreal means snow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23894295)

Montreal has snow storms in April and sometimes even in May. And in November, it falls below freezing in the evening.
Not too mention the heavy rains in the fall and the spring.
We had about 50-75% days of rain in the spring.
This month of June we've had rain almost every day.

I know, my kids have been asking to take their bikes out!!

This is a cute idea that will only serve a dense area population of eco freaks: the uber chic Le Plateau Mt Royal, which cachet was created by the musicians and artists and hippies who lived there and have been replaced by bottled water carrying
yuppies.
Montreal has an amazing metro which can more or less take you anywhere in the larger core *not the outlying anglo suburbs), I dont think this will matter much apart from Mt Royal street to Avenue Des Pins to Parc Lafontaine.
There were a few failed car services like that and the plateau is the only place this worked since the parking situation there is horrible and most professionals dont have cars, taking the metro or taxi.

Re:They only get a few months.. (4, Interesting)

AchilleTalon (540925) | more than 6 years ago | (#23892571)

There is not much snow in Montreal until end of December and not much after end of March, so, bicycles are usable nine months a year. Do let be confuse, Montreal is still far from Iqaluit.

Re:They only get a few months.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23894553)

Montreal, does get snow in early december, kinda like this:

[flickr.com]

Re:They only get a few months.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23894617)

or, rather:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dejongrobert/2087468223/

Re:They only get a few months.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23892597)

A Few Months Might be very Convenient, Especially if a part of the business plan is to sell the system to other cities. A Up-Time Bike Season for a few months, a Down-Time Maintenence season with Opportunities to Properly impliment improvments, useful multiple experiences in starting/restarting service with obvious possibilities in a crosover product for 4 wheeled motor convanences. sell a working system to cities with a better climate, Rome, Mexico City, Honalulu, Bangcock, Fiji(whole Island) etc.

Re:They only get a few months.. (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 6 years ago | (#23893149)

the bicycle may not be the best means of transportation in the winter
If I can ride through a Chicago winter, I'm sure Terence and Philip can ride up in Montreal.

Re:They only get a few months.. (1)

strabes (1075839) | more than 6 years ago | (#23894259)

You're a braver man (I assume) than I. Perhaps it's because I'm from Las Vegas and live there when I'm not at school in Chicago.

Re:They only get a few months.. (1)

conner_bw (120497) | more than 6 years ago | (#23893777)

Winter is only 3 to 4 months out of 12. Montreal is proud of its reputation as one of the largest bicycle friendly cities in the world with over 400 miles (660 km's) of bicycle paths. Bicycling Magazine has named Montreal the number one cycling city (among cities of over one million inhabitants) in North America. We have a lot of people riding bikes regularly as a daily mode of transportation.

Re:They only get a few months.. (1)

c_fel (927677) | more than 6 years ago | (#23894105)

We do have bike paths where the snow is cleared all year long. And since all the snow is cleared from the streets after a storm, there's not much snow in Montreal during Winter.

Re:They only get a few months.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23894893)

But at least the potholes are covered with snow.....

Isn't it just another iteration of Paris' Velib? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23892377)

It sounds awfully like... exactly the same thing. But in Paris you can use them 12 months a year. In Montreal, as soon as the ground ice-freezes or more than 50cm of snow accumulates, the bikes will basically become useless.

-> http://www.en.velib.paris.fr/comment_ca_marche

Julien

Re:Isn't it just another iteration of Paris' Velib (1)

mqy (37174) | more than 6 years ago | (#23892415)

Exactly. Looks like Montreal is getting yet another system similar to Paris Velib [wikipedia.org] , Barelona Bicing, Stockholm City Bikes [wikipedia.org] , and others... Except this one will be buried in snow from November to April.

Re:Isn't it just another iteration of Paris' Velib (1)

PMBjornerud (947233) | more than 6 years ago | (#23893121)

Exactly. Looks like Montreal is getting yet another system similar to Paris Velib [wikipedia.org] , Barelona Bicing, Stockholm City Bikes [wikipedia.org] , and others... Except this one will be buried in snow from November to April.

Trondheim, Norway had a similar system when I was there in 1998, not sure if it is older than that.

At 63.4 degrees North, I think those would also also qualify for the winter part.

Re:Isn't it just another iteration of Paris' Velib (2, Informative)

Mornedhel (961946) | more than 6 years ago | (#23893063)

Paris wasn't the first city in France to implement those (unless you count the RATP short-lived bike rental service, with probably a total of fifty bikes in the entire city at its peak). Lyon at least predated Vélib with its Vélov system. Yeah, dunno why the apostrophe trend.

The project currently being pushed by Delanoë (mayor of Paris) is also noteworthy : the goal is to have the same system as Vélib, but with cars. Dunno if it will work as well, though, since you still need a license to drive them (at least I hope).

weeeeee (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23892391)

Rent Bike.
Ride down hill to other depot.
Take bus back to original depot.
Repeat as needed.

Title (1)

kingturkey (930819) | more than 6 years ago | (#23892569)

Am I the only one who read the title and pictured futuristic solar powered electric bicycles with web browsers attached? I think it's more the bike system that's using Web, RFID and solar...

Re:Title (1)

kingturkey (930819) | more than 6 years ago | (#23892577)

Sorry about replying to myself, poor form I know, but this ladies and gentlemen is what the preview button is for: checking that you closed your tags properly. "System" was all that should have been italicised.

Supply and Demand (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 6 years ago | (#23892583)

And all they have to do, with their little computerized system, is to make sure that the supply is low enough at key spots to keep the rental price high. What a scam.

By the way, someone mentioned that Montreal keeps its road plowed. That does not much matter, since a snow plow often makes the road slicker than leaving some powder snow alone. On the other hand, I do not believe that there are any logical objections to using bicycles that have walnut-shell or metal-studded tires.

Re:Supply and Demand (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 6 years ago | (#23892835)

Objections to using them? No. Reasons to think anyone doing it is fucking insane? Yes. Of course you have a screw loose to be biking on a busy non-residential street anyway- you're a vehicle weighing maybe 250 lbs, traveling with vehicles weighing half a ton, with limited maneuverability, lower speed, and balance issues. You're hard to see, increasing the likelihood of accidents. On top of that, you're going at half the speed of the cars, which in any type of traffic just pisses people off- and it can be dangerous enough dealing with maniac drivers in another car. nyone who serious tries biking on anything other than bike trails or residential areas deserves a Darwin award.

Re:Supply and Demand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23892949)

Idiot.

Re:Supply and Demand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23893227)

First, not everyone on bike is obese and having "balance issues". Second, there are very few cars which weigh only half a ton. Third, bicycles are not hard to see. Fourth, it may seems strange to you, but it's more dangerous to ride in a residential area than on busy street. In the residential area there is always an idiot who'll drive very fast thinking the street is clear. On the busy street, everyone will go slowly because of traffic.

Limited Mobility Users? (3, Interesting)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 6 years ago | (#23892595)

From the Feature List:

Easy access for people with limited mobility.
But... it's a bicycle that they get. What are people with limited mobility going to do with the bicycle?

Re:Limited Mobility Users? (4, Insightful)

Mr. Bad Example (31092) | more than 6 years ago | (#23893255)

> What are people with limited mobility going to do with the bicycle?

"Limited mobility" doesn't mean "completely immobile". I, for example, have some orthopedic problems that make it really painful to walk further than about a mile or stand on my feet for more than an hour at a time. A bicycle would greatly extend my range by taking most of the strain off my feet.

(Of course, I don't really have anywhere to store one, and the hills around here are bastards, but that's a whole other subject...)

Re:Limited Mobility Users? (1)

zuvembi (30889) | more than 6 years ago | (#23894943)

As the poster above me mentioned, just because someone has impaired mobility, doesn't mean they can't use a bike. I know multiple people who have trouble walking more than a few blocks or standing stationary. Yet, they can ride the bicycle for miles and miles. In fact, some of them probably do more miles in a year than the average person does ever.

For them the bicycle is a real mobility aid. If they didn't have it they would be reduced to a wheelchair, walker, or possibly one of those electric scooters.

Barcelona has the same thing since many years. (1)

cboneti (980661) | more than 6 years ago | (#23892607)

Check in www.bicing.com. Pretty cool, pretty functional. I'm a happy user since more then 13 months... :)

Seems to work in Sweden... (4, Informative)

ayjay29 (144994) | more than 6 years ago | (#23892675)

We have had this [wikipedia.org] in sweden for a while now. It seems to be pretty successful. I have not used it, as i have my own bike, but i see a lot of people ridnig around on them.
 

Re:Seems to work in Sweden... (5, Interesting)

flurdy (301431) | more than 6 years ago | (#23893595)

Got them in Oslo, Norway [oslobysykkel.no] too.

I use them all the time, they make getting around town so easy.

  • You dont need to worry about locking up your own bike.
  • You dont need to get back to a specific spot to pick your own bike.
  • You are not forced to go both ways by bike. You can cycle to town, the get a tram, tube, taxi etc home later if you want to.
  • You dont spend 20mins trying to find parking for your car
  • You dont spend 10mins waiting for a tram
  • You can go directions where public transport might not go directly
  • It only costs 70kr/year which is about $14 as the bikes and bikesheds are sponsored with ads.

The system here also has a realtime website with status of their 90ish depots/bikesheds. And if the one you are at is empty, then the screen lists the status of nearby depots.

There are some drawbacks with the free city bikes:

  • It is too popular, often the bike rails are empty
  • People tend to go the same directions/places at the same time. So even with trucks driving around to redistribute the bikes, the ones on the city centre limits are during day time often empty and the ones in the centre are full.
  • Even with constant maintenance some of the bikes have taken a beating
  • Some people steal the free city bikes. Makes no sense to me, as they are virtually free.

So I fully recommend them, it has made us get about town so much easier and quicker (and thus more often), but they are only useful if the depots are everywhere and stocked up.

Solar powered depos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23892679)

Like the solar powered parking ticket machines, which have just enough power to take your money or card, but then run out just before printing the ticket?

I don't understand (1)

seventhc (636528) | more than 6 years ago | (#23892715)

why wouldn't people just use their own bike? I'm not sure about everywhere else but a lot of buses do have bike racks on them. Bikes are also aloud on the trains where i live, provided that you have a bike pass.

Before you dismiss it.... (4, Interesting)

brundlefly (189430) | more than 6 years ago | (#23892759)

Have you seen how successful the public bicycle system is in Paris? It's a generation older in terms of tech, but it continues to be a great success. Being able to simply grab (rent) a bike and ride the 15-20 blocks you might need to travel, doing this above ground in a physically exhilarating and liberating fashion (compared to a bus/metro/taxi)... this is all most excellent.

The geek criticism of this technology for its "privacy concerns" and for its "technological weak points" is probably all logically sound. But the very same people who are making these points are also very likely the most keyboard-bound (by habit) people. They are perhaps failing to see the practical gains here, in favor of racing to point out academic faults. To them I say:

Dude! If ever anyone needed a digital rent-a-bike to get you off your ass, it's you! Who do you think they are making this for? It's not the carousing moron with bad credit and too many kids. It's not Dr. MD-PhD who drives to his practice to check his schedule for next week. It's you, pal.

Re:Before you dismiss it.... (1)

MtViewGuy (197597) | more than 6 years ago | (#23892885)

Being able to simply grab (rent) a bike and ride the 15-20 blocks you might need to travel, doing this above ground in a physically exhilarating and liberating fashion (compared to a bus/metro/taxi)... this is all most excellent.

Ah, no thanks, especially considering the air pollution you get in a densely-populated city like Paris with all that automobile, truck and bus traffic. I'll wait until every vehicle on Paris streets are either Euro 6 emissions-compliant, run off natural gas, are hybrids/plug-in hybrids and/or all-electric.

Air pollution and Vélib (2, Insightful)

Mornedhel (961946) | more than 6 years ago | (#23893083)

Ah, no thanks, especially considering the air pollution you get in a densely-populated city like Paris with all that automobile, truck and bus traffic. I'll wait until every vehicle on Paris streets are either Euro 6 emissions-compliant, run off natural gas, are hybrids/plug-in hybrids and/or all-electric.

Well, reducing traffic pollution is kind of the entire point of the Vélib system, isn't it ? I'd say bikes are Euro 6 emissions-compliant. And natural gas is a hazard in closed car parks, of which there are quite a few in the city.

Oh, and the buses are already going towards low-emission.

Re:Air pollution and Vélib (1)

MtViewGuy (197597) | more than 6 years ago | (#23894285)

While buses and delivery trucks are going to clean-burning CNG in Paris, you still have the problem of a lot of automobiles fuelled by diesel fuel, and unlike the USA, European diesel emission standards are nowhere as strict as in the USA. Given the huge amount of new cars sold in Europe with diesel engines, they need to make them much cleaner in terms of NOx and diesel particulate output to reduce the serious air pollution problems in cities.

Re:Before you dismiss it.... (2, Interesting)

Archon-X (264195) | more than 6 years ago | (#23893345)

From your post, I'm going to make the assumption that you've never been to Paris.

Whilst there is traffic in Paris, as with every city - not everyone owns a car.
Public transport is highly convenient, and heavily utilised.
Parking is expensive, petrol is hard to source in the city, and having a garage where you live is next to impossible.

Drivers are very conscientious of bicycles, and all in all, as per the parent poster, it's a really exhilirating and relaxing experience.

I'm awfully sorry that you've not had a chance to experience it.

Re:Before you dismiss it.... (4, Informative)

Archon-X (264195) | more than 6 years ago | (#23892899)

It will be the 1 year anniversary of the Velib system in Paris in a few weeks time.
I was looking at the figures the other day - there are over 20,000 bikes now [100% more than when launched] - and 1,450 stations.

It seems to be a very mixed demographic that uses them - you'll see a lot of students, and a lot of older folk as well.
From my point of view, there definitely seem to be less tourists using them - it may catch on though.

The system, however, is fantastic. Most people over here don't have enough space to have their own bike, and being able to grab one to ride to a friend's house, or shorten a walk home, or simply take advantage of a sunny day, for 1 Euro - fantastic.

And, summer brings girls in sundresses onto bicycles!

Re:Before you dismiss it.... (1)

Beretta Vexe (535187) | more than 6 years ago | (#23894225)

The system wasn't design for tourist in the first place. It's a "personal public transport" mainly focus on Parisian.

It's a bit complicate to rent a bike if you don't already have a navigo card ( the RFID public transport card http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Navigo [wikipedia.org] ). And non smart credit card ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carte_Bleue [wikipedia.org] ) aren't supported.

It's a bit risky too to ride in Paris if you are unaware of the drives use.

The system is fantastic, when the public transport are on strike, at night ( no subway between 1AM and 6AM )
     

Re:Before you dismiss it.... (1)

Archon-X (264195) | more than 6 years ago | (#23894321)

Whilst not primarily for tourists, the system is designed in 6 languages.

I don't own a navigo. Renting is as follows
  - Hire a bike, tap 2
  - Short duration, tap 1
  - Accept conditions, enter card, take bike

I've never found Parisian traffic difficult, but I guess it depends where you're riding. Rondpoint Charles de Gaule Etoile? Sure, you're in for a treat. Small streets around Paris? No issues.

That said, riding at night is wonderful.

Re:Before you dismiss it.... (1)

blackjackshellac (849713) | more than 6 years ago | (#23893833)

Excellent excellent post. I live in Montreal and recently was approached by someone doing research for this project. Since I already ride my bike into work I don't have much use for this, but I didn't tell her that and said that I thought this would be an excellent program.

Bicycles at Google (1)

MichaelCrawford (610140) | more than 6 years ago | (#23892811)

The GooglePlex - Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California, has several buildings. There are some other businesses there too, so it can be a bit of a walk to visit another building.

So they keep bicycles by each door. They're very inexpensive single-speed bikes, with flags on tall poles. They're cheap enough that they don't worry about them being stolen.

And no, I don't work there - I've visited a couple times.

A similar system using automobiles... (1)

bunbuntheminilop (935594) | more than 6 years ago | (#23893003)

...is being developed by Prof Bill Mitchell at MIT. This link is to a radio interview [abc.net.au] with him in March.

Already done in Spain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23893235)

We have similar systems in most of our cities:
CastellÃn de la plana: www.bicicas.es

Re:Already done in Spain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23893275)

We have similar systems in most of our cities:
CastellÃn de la plana: www.bicicas.es

Sorry, clicked submit too early.

Burgos > http://www.bicibur.es/

Ponferrada > http://www.biciponferrada.es/

Jerez > http://www.tubici.es/

Also Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia, Sevilla, etc.

The bike paths suck (1)

cowwoc2001 (976892) | more than 6 years ago | (#23894179)

Having lived in Montreal for many years I can tell you their so-called great system sucks.

The average road size in downtown Montreal is two lanes plus one parking lane. Parking is already impossible to find and one out of the two driving lanes is almost always blocked by construction, delivery trucks or some driver taking a left turn. So you're already down to one usable lane.

Now these idiots come along and pave *permanent* bike lanes (enforced with a concrete separator) in a country that sees Winter 3/4th of the year. Goodbye parking space, goodbye driving space. To make matters worse I've seen quite a few bikers continuing to use the roads and avoiding the biking lane altogether.

This is one of the dumbest idea I've heard of in a long while!

The bikers suck (1)

Webs 101 (798265) | more than 6 years ago | (#23894293)

As alluded to in the parent, Montreal this past year devoted an entire lane of a one-way street called de Maisonneuve to a bike path and removed some crucial parking space.

But many idiot cyclists don't use it. They continue to bike on Sherbrooke, one block north, which for most of its length is only one and a half lanes of traffic each way plus a parking lane.

That's bad enough, but the idiot cyclists ignore traffic regulations like stop signs and red lights, so you have all this vehicle traffic that has to pass the same God-damned cyclist three times in the squeeze.

Instead of making it easier for Montreal cyclists, they should ban them.

The same thing happens on the Plateau. I used to live on Duluth and you'd have all these cyclists running through the stop signs on Duluth instead of using the bike path on Rachel, a block north.

Re:The bikers suck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23894803)

As alluded to in the parent, Montreal this past year devoted an entire lane of a one-way street called de Maisonneuve to a bike path and removed some crucial parking space.


But many idiot cyclists don't use it. They continue to bike on Sherbrooke, one block north, which for most of its length is only one and a half lanes of traffic each way plus a parking lane.


That's bad enough, but the idiot cyclists ignore traffic regulations like stop signs and red lights, so you have all this vehicle traffic that has to pass the same God-damned cyclist three times in the squeeze.

Instead of making it easier for Montreal cyclists, they should ban them.

The same thing happens on the Plateau. I used to live on Duluth and you'd have all these cyclists running through the stop signs on Duluth instead of using the bike path on Rachel, a block north.

Remind me to kick your mirror and break your windshield with my helmet if you ever see me biking around on Sherbrooke you car-nazi.

Re:The bikers suck (1)

cowwoc2001 (976892) | more than 6 years ago | (#23894841)

That's a kind of funny comment seeing how bikers were busy running down pedestrians before they were pushed into the roads. I guess pedestrians are nazis too eh?

There is a time and a place for cars, bikes, and pedestrians. The current arrangement is very poorly planned and makes everyone pretty miserable but I guess that is consistent with Montreal's "great" road-planning, where the same road gets paved 2-3 times the same year while somehow developing 10x more pot holes than any surrounding province and state.

Let's be honest here: Quebec's government is corrupt. They are creating blue-collar work in order to keep unemployment figures low at the cost of millions of dollars of unnecessary construction projects and using poor construction materials everywhere.

And by the way, Montreal's parking meters are more expensive than New York's, if you can imagine such a thing. It makes no sense by any stretch of one's imagination.

Re:The bikers suck (1)

Webs 101 (798265) | more than 6 years ago | (#23895041)

Why don't you use the bike path? Why don't you stop at lights or stop signs?

Re:The bike paths suck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23894517)

Here in Paris cyclists are required to use a cycle path if one exists. The reason I sometime don't is because once you're in the narrow corridor with a concrete divider, you are basically trapped - no way to overtake the little old lady crawling along in front, and no easy way to get out of the cycle path when it's blocked by a parked car (Paris drivers are very skilled at balancing their vehicles on the narrow concrete divider).

So, rather than bunny-hop over the wall into moving traffic, I prefer to ride where I actually have room to manoevre. Sorry if that's inconvenient for you motorists but, if you feel like moving all those cars parked in cycle lanes, maybe I wouldn't have to.

Oh, and one last thing, being forced to ride in a cycle lane next to the gutter would be OK, if most motorists actually looked before turning right. As it is, I'm forced to ride in a position where people will turn across in front of me without looking and, thanks to the little concrete wall, I can't pull out round you, I can only slam on the brakes.

So this is as much a rant about poorly thought-out cycle lanes than Parisian drivers. I saw that one commenter above says that most drivers here are considerate of cyclists - I'd sure like to know what part of town he rides in!

And who... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23894651)

Maintains the bikes? I mean, come on. Besides normal bike troubles like flats, you're dealing with dynamo hubs, full-coverage fenders, internally geared hubs, and all manner of other gizmos that are liable to break easily. I worked at a shop that rented bikes once, and anything more complex than a coaster-braked singlespeed came back needing some kind of work.

Furthermore, what's with the bike that they're showing off? is there an actual prototype? It doesn't seem to have been designed by someone who has worked extensively with bikes. If the chain guard is integrated into the frame, how do you get the crank off to work on the bottom bracket? If a brake lever breaks, do you replace the handlebars? And do they really believe that anyone can fit the bike by adjusting the seat?

They don't send the bikes off with any tools, even a flat repair kit.

If you want to rent bikes without any maintenance, use a steel-framed singlespeed with a sealed BB and hubs, a coaster brake, sealant-filled tubes, and kevlar-belted tires. send it out with a seatpack containing a spare tube, a CO2 inflator and a multitool. Done. No electronics, no cables, no gizmos.

http://worksmancycles.com/shopsite_sc/store/html/cruisers.html [worksmancycles.com] -- there's a good place to start.

Won't work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23895117)

The niggers from North Montreal will steal them all.

Buffalo Blue Bicycles. (1)

saintlupus (227599) | more than 6 years ago | (#23895279)

We've got something similar here in Buffalo. Members can check out a bike from the web site and return it to any of the "hubs" around town, and then check it back in.

The biggest thing people always worry about is theft, but since the work is all done by volunteers and the bikes are all donations or cheapies from police auction, someone would have to steal a half-dozen bikes a year to eclipse their $15 membership fee.

--saint

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