Bike Share Toronto expanding by 70 stations
New bike share stations will be close to subway stations and streetcar stops, with funding from the city and Ottawa.
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Toronto’s bike share system is getting a major expansion that will stretch the network from east Etobicoke to Scarborough’s western border.
Users of Bike Share Toronto and its distinctive black bicycles will get 70 new pick-up/drop-off stations this month, officials announced Wednesday.
The locations, chosen for their proximity to subway stations and streetcar stops, will bring the total number of stations to 270. They will stretch from Marine Parade Dr. on the waterfront, just west of the Humber River, across the city to Victoria Park Ave. north of Bloor St.
The City of Toronto and the federal government are each contributing $1.25 million toward 50 of the new stations, with the city kicking in an extra $1.5 million for the remainder.
It’s a remarkable comeback for a system that launched as Montreal export BIXI in 2011 but struggled financially with a small downtown network until it was rebranded as Bike Share Toronto under control of city-owned Toronto Parking Authority.
Last year the Ontario government contributed $4.9 million to double the network with 80 new stations and 800 new bikes.
Expansion seems to have paid off. The system recorded its highest-ever daily ridership — 6,490 — on June 21 and has grown to 9,500 active members. They took more than 1.1 million trips in the past year and have pedaled more than 16.8 million kilometres since the service first launched.
The system is meant to be an alternative to private bike use for short-haul trips and extensions to transit excursions. Riders use a credit card to unlock the bike and can return it to any station. People who buy $90 annual memberships can use a bike for up to 30 minutes without additional charges.
The system also eliminates cyclists’ worries about bike theft, a common problem in Toronto.
At the announcement, at a new station near Lansdowne subway station, Mayor John Tory said the new stations will help expand Torontonians’ transit options and, if fewer people drive, reduce “nightmarish” traffic congestion.
Expanding to suburban parts of Toronto offers a new option to homeowners, some of whom multiple cars in the driveway, Tory said.
“I believe that the bike share program represents part of the answer to the transit unfriendly development of yesteryear . . . Riding a shared bike to the transit stop may well represent the answer to getting some of those residents in some of those areas out of their cars and onto the transit system,” he said.
Davenport MP Julie Dzerowicz, representing federal Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi, echoed that message, saying: “We really do need to shift people out of their cars and onto transit and onto bikes.”
Bike share popularity seems to be part of an increased enthusiasm for cycling, driven at least in part by an increase in dedicated bike lanes.
Daniela Patino of Cycle Toronto welcomed the new stations, especially around Bloor St., and said her group would like to see even more in Toronto’s east end.
“People are starting to see that cycling is the best way to get from A to B for shorter trips,” Patino said.
City cyclists might soon have another bike-share option. Dropbike, an app-based “dockless” service with self-locking bikes that can be unlocked via smartphone, launched recently at the University of Toronto’s St. George campus. The company hopes to expand to other parts of Toronto.
With files from Betsy Powell
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