Ottawa-Gatineau's Bixi bicycle sharing program is reporting a boost in ridership in its second year, as the addition of more stations has attracted local commuters.
This spring the National Capital Commission added 15 more bixi stations, bringing the total to 25, and with that increase the bike sharing program had added riders, too.
In its first three weeks last year — from the week of May 24 to the week of June 7 — 3,050 trips were taken using the bikes.
Over the same three-week period this year, the number of trips has jumped to 5,305. On a daily basis, ridership is up about 50 per cent compared with last year.
But the addition of more stations at sites beyond tourist destinations has also led to more locals using the bikes.
Practical for some commuters
Guillaume Vadeboncoeur, who bikes in a suit, said with one station close to home and another at his office in the World Exchange Plaza, choosing Bixi is more about practicality than lifestyle.
He bought a year-long Bixi membership, even though he owns a bike.
"My bike at home, if I have to get it I have to go in the bike locker in the basement, get it out of there, unlock it from there, bring it back up to street level, bike downtown, then do the same at work," said Vadeboncoeur.
"So the Bixi bike, the great advantage, I don't have to do that, it's just walk in, walk out and it's done."
NCC plans to install more stations
Jean-Francois Trépanier, who oversees the NCC-run program, said Vadeboncoeur's story matches their observations.
"We see more and more people in their suits, going from one meeting to another one using the Bixi," said Trépanier.
After installing the first wave of stations near tourist attractions, Trépanier said they've now been able to better address the needs of locals, and plan to install more stations closer to where people live.
Some employers are also getting on board. Environment Canada has bought 30 Bixi memberships for employees to commute between work sites.