November 7, 2014
Exploring cities throughout the world is just getting better and better. With a swipe of a credit card, you can have access to a bike in New York City, Minneapolis, Montreal, and hundreds of other cities throughout the world.
Sure. There's nothing better than riding your own bike. But on short trips, or if you are away on business, bringing your own bike can be a hassle. Using a bike share program allows you to locate a station, grab a bike, ride it two blocks or two miles, and then dock it at another station.
Kat and I recently spent nine days in Montreal and got around exclusively with Bixi bikes (the name of Montreal's bike share program). The bikes themselves are utilitarian. They are meant to be that way. I would compare the ride to pedaling your sibling's three speed that doesn't quite fit you ... but it gets you where you want to go. It was easy to find bikes when we needed them. There are over 5000 bikes at over 400 stations in the city. The convenience of the system and the peace of mind of not having to worry about locking up our personal bikes more than made up for the less than perfect ride.
Bike share programs are popping up all over! In fact, a week after we returned from our trip to Montreal, our city, Seattle, rolled out it's first 500 bikes in a system named Pronto. I signed up for a membership, pronto.
Photos by Willie Weir
SIGHTS AND SOUNDS is posted every other Friday. Willie Weir is a columnist for Adventure Cyclist magazine. His books, Travels with Willie and Spokesongs, will inspire you to hit the road, and might change the way you approach bicycle travel. He lives in Seattle with his wife Kat. You can read about their adventures at http://yellowtentadventures.com.