Montreal Shatters Stereotypes on Cold Weather Biking

A combination of infrastructure, connectivity, and quality equipment has made the Canadian city’s bike share system successful despite frigid winters and challenging geography.

1 minute read

March 21, 2024, 5:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Close-up of silver Bixi bike share bikes parked at a station in Montreal, Quebec, Canada with blurred person on bike riding away in background.

christian / Adobe Stock

With the average daily February temperature at 26 degrees Fahrenheit, how did Montreal become a city of cyclists? A piece by Ben Abramson in Strong Towns investigates.

Montreal’s bikeshare program, called BIXI, has grown exponentially since launching in 2009. With over 10,000 bikes, it has the largest fleet in Canada and one of the largest in North America. BIXI has a user base of more than 500,000 riders, who took almost 12 million trips in 2023, more than double the 5.8 million in (pre-COVID) 2019.

The system added winter service this year. Abramson writes that the city set up the bike share system for success in a number of ways. “On the product side, it was important to launch with high-quality cycles, a well-designed network, and a pricing structure that riders are comfortable with.”

The system is also well integrated with local public transit and other transportation infrastructure. “But most important of all is making the network available where users live and travel between.” The system uses fixed stations scattered throughout the region, not just in central Montreal, providing a broad network that avoids the issues faced by dockless devices.

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