The ‘bike-share boom’ continues to grow in Montreal this summer, as Uber-owned JUMP bikes enters the market dominated by BIXI Montréal.. However, seasoned cyclists are wary of bike-share users’ lack of attention to road cycling safety, as this unmindful behaviour leads to more road confusion and bike accidents.
According to Onur Koçer, a volunteer at McGill’s Flat Bike Collective and ‘all-season’ cycling commuter, Bixi customers often ignore road rules like proper passing procedures.
“If I am [cycling] and a Bixi is trying to [pass me] from my right side, I am really confused, and that happens quite often,” Koçer said. “You need to be aware that you are also responsible for other people who bike and yourself at the same time. I don’t really feel that so many people show that kind of awareness of responsibility toward other people.”
JUMP bikes are pedal-assisted electric bikes that can travel up to 32 kilometres per hour. The system is ‘dockless’: Users can pick-up and return bikes from any bike rack within the service area, in addition to at designated docking stations. Users can reserve and pay for bikes by using the Uber app.
Emily MacLean, another volunteer at The Flat Bike Collective, is concerned that disregard for road rules will worsen as e-bikes, which are more powerful and faster than traditional bikes, become more widespread.
“[E-bikes] will take the problems with Bixis and exacerbate them. Bixi has lots of pros, but I don’t know how many of those pros will go along with [e-bikes],” MacLean said. “I am a little bit wary about the e-bikes. [But], they could be helpful, maybe they will surprise us.”
Although widespread bike sharing may create safety concerns, these services also offer an alternative to driving that is non-polluting, time-saving, and more active. Robert Couvrette, the McGill associate vice-principal of university services, says that bike shares are a welcome addition to campus life.
“The increased accessibility of such modes of transportation is good news, as it likely encourages more members of the McGill community to use active transport,” Couvrette said. “Cyclists are asked to always be vigilant and respectful of pedestrians, who have the right of way on the downtown campus.”
In a 2016 study at the Technical University of Denmark, researchers found that riding style is a crucial factor in e-bike user safety and that e-bikes carry a specific set of safety implications. According to the study, e-bike trips are on average shorter, faster and more frequent than those taken on traditional bikes, and other road users often underestimate the bikes’ speeds.
Presently, the Quebec Ministry of Transportation has not passed any regulations limiting the speed of e-bikes, however, the Highway Safety Code mandates that riders wear helmets. Furthermore, the City of Montreal released new regulations to ensure dockless bike-share vehicles are still properly managed by their companies.
“The City of Montreal is only responsible for the supervision of the parking of dockless vehicles and their operating licences,” Serge Tsoto, the City of Montreal press correspondent wrote in an email.