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Despite the unwelcoming weather, Toronto welcomed the Bixi bike-sharing program to its downtown on Tuesday.
Eighty bike stations are being set up in the downtown core, housing 1,000 Bixi bikes. Toronto's version of the bicycles are a somewhat sinister black compared to the red-and-grey scheme in Montreal, and will probably look right at home in our Death-Star-like Financial District.
Speaking outside Bixi HQ at Yonge and Gould, Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, chair of the city's public works and infrastructures committee, hailed the program as soon to be "an integral part of the city's transportation network."
"Today's a great day for cycling in the city," said Andrea Garcia of the Toronto Cyclists Union. "Part of the mandate of the TCU is to increase the visibility and uptake of cycling. One thousand of these beautiful Bixi bikes roaming through our downtown streets is a great way of advancing this goal."
But while the mood was upbeat, there are reports of problems on Day One of the Bixi program. Multiple posts on Bixi's Facebook page show that riders are having trouble activating their accounts. Some subscribers to the program said they haven't got their keys in the mail yet, and customer service just a day before launch was reportedly non-existent.
There are also wider concerns that there is not enough existing cycling infrastructure in Toronto to support the program. Bike lanes have yet to materialize in the numbers we were promised back in 2009, and major thoroughfares like Bloor Street remain potentially dangerous for cyclists.