Friday, 15 June 2007

Free Bikes and Greener Cities

There is snow on the ground and ice on the streets in Montreal for a good four months a year, but that doesn’t stop the city being one where bicycles are used a lot. During a recent, thankfully short-lived public transit strike the streets were full of bicycling commuters, and many cyclists seem to have decided to continue even though buses are back on the roads.

And using bikes to run errands has just become easier. You can now borrow a bicycle for free on one of Montreal’s most interesting shopping streets. All you have to do is present identification at the BécikVert kiosk next to the Mont-Royal Metro station in order to use one of 27 recycled bicycles. Equipped with baskets to hold your shopping and a sheaf of coupons to get discounts at local stores, the bikes are provided by merchants on the street and an ecology group, with support from the Plateau Mont-Royal borough council.

I must admit that riding bikes gives me the shakes—I’m a walker, and I’ve found that in most weather it takes me just as long to walk to a destination three to four kilometers away as it does to take transit. But it’s a pleasure to see that people move toward getting around on their own power. Another step (or pedal) for humankind, I hope.

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