Time’s up for Bike Share Toronto riders
Toronto's popular bike share system will offer a new 45-minute ride membership to give cyclists 15 extra minutes between stations
If, like me, you’ve been pissed off that Toronto’s Bike Share program limits rides to a mere 30 minutes, things are about to change this July. The Toronto Parking Authority (TPA) is voting on a new pilot program introducing a 45-minute ride membership. The pilot will begin on July 1.
With the current 30-minute membership, you can ride any bike in the Bike Share Toronto system, but need to dock it before 30 minutes are up – and then you can continue for another 30 minutes, and so on. If you go over, there’s a charge of $4 per half hour, up to $100 a day. It’s easy enough to exceed that half hour, especially since the system expanded its map.
In 2020, the program increased from 465 stations to 625 stations, and launched two pilot programs outside the city core – in York-Centre, Scarborough-Guildwood and Scarborough-Rouge Park. With the current 30-minute limit, it’s impossible – unless you’re Lance Armstrong or have access to one of the system’s new e-bikes – to get from the regular system’s easternmost dock at Blantyre Park to Guildwood in that time.
The proposed pilot membership cost is $115 per year, up from the current $99. (There are also passes for 24 hour access and 72 hour access.) The TPA says annual members on average spend $14 a year on overage fees, so that works out to a similar charge. Plus, you won’t have the hassle of having to dock your bike every 30 minutes.
Comparable bike share rates in North America include $179 (for unlimited 45-minute rides in New York City), $109 (45-minute rides in Boston) and $99 (45-minute rides in Montreal).
The pandemic has been good for the program, which is now in its 11th year and originally started out under the name Bixi.
Whether it was fear of taking public transit, the need for exercise while staying cooped up at home or the incentive of initiatives like ActiveTO – which closed down roads on weekends for cyclists and pedestrians – 2020 saw a record 2.9 million trips on the Bike Share Toronto system. That’s half a million more trips than in 2019.
And the number of members shifted gears from 2.4 million in 2019 to 2.9 million in 2020.
TPA is also looking at integrating the PRESTO technology used by the TTC and GO Transit into its system.