With concern for climate change at an all-time high, autumn in Montreal is a great time for students to explore new eco-friendly ways to get around the city. BIXI and JUMP bikes and Lime and Bird e-scooters offer fun, cost-effective options that do not contribute to the pollution problem exacerbated by carbon-emitting cars, buses, and trains. With these small but mighty vehicles more accessible than ever, The McGill Tribune investigated Montreal’s four bike and scooter-shares.
The first public bike-sharing system of its kind in Montreal, BIXI bikes became a part of the city in 2009 with 3,000 bicycles available across at 400 stations. Today, there are over 7,250 bikes in 600 stations. Unlike other providers, Bixi bikes are only docked at designated stations, meaning they are more easily located for riders in a pinch. The availability and sheer volume of bikes makes for a particularly fast and accessible ride, often faster than waiting for a bus or metro. Additionally, using Bixi can be much cheaper than relying on public transport or Ubers. A 30-minute trip would cost only $2.95; unlimited 30-minute trips throughout the day cost $5.25 for one day, $15 for three, $34 for 30, and $94 for a year. In addition to the standard BIXI, 100 blue motorized e-BIXIs are also available throughout the city.
The bright red bicycles with the spacious baskets are slowly becoming a feature of the city. JUMP e-bikes, which are owned and operated by Uber, can ease a tough commute up Montreal hills. These bikes can be unlocked for free through the Uber app but cost 30 cents per minute of use, making them significantly more expensive than BIXI. Furthermore, since Jump bicycles can be picked up and dropped off at any public bike rack, they are more difficult to find than regular BIXI bikes but easier to find than the rarer e-BIXIs. And while JUMP bikes allow for a quicker commute, for safety purposes, they have a speed limit of 32km per hour. Due to their speed, JUMP requires that users wear helmets while riding.
Lime scooters, the ubiquitous neon green electric scooters from an electric bike startup formerly known as LimeBike, have become a familiar sight across Montreal, whether in the center of the sidewalk or discarded at the bottom of the Lachine Canal. The fact that Lime scooters are dockless paired with riders’ tendency to leave scooters everywhere led Montrealer Pascal Robichaud to post a collection of Lime parking infractions to Flickr. Despite controversy over the haphazardly parked scooters, Lime attracts many riders curious about how e-scooters operate. After the first push, e-scooters require little effort to move. Riders simply press down on the throttle on the right handle bar to accelerate and squeeze the hand brake on the left to stop. The scooters cost $1 to unlock in the Lime app by scanning a QR code on the scooter and, like JUMP e-bikes, cost 30 cents per minute of use.
Sleek, matte black Bird e-scooters are new to Montreal’s scooter-share scene, appearing for the first time in early September as part of a pilot project that will run until Nov. 15. Only 250 dockless Bird e-scooters have hit the streets, joining Lime’s fleet of 430. Operation is comparable to Lime, with a right-hand throttle and a left-hand brake. However, Bird’s cleaner aesthetic comes at a price: Scooters cost $1.15 to start and an additional 35 cents per minute. Unlike Lime, Bird will soon adopt a monthly rental plan that would allow riders to pay a flat fee for unlimited use of a scooter for a month or more.