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Transportation Earth

Montreal's Public Bikes To Use Web, RFID, Solar 146

Posted by kdawson
from the all-the-green-words dept.
Ian Lamont writes "Montreal is preparing to launch a Web- and RFID-enabled public bike system that allows residents and visitors to rent bicycles at special depots scattered throughout the city. Using a Web site, riders can check out a real-time inventory of available bicycles at the depot locations. At the depots, a solar-powered base station will process credit cards or member cards. The bike docks use RFID, and the system is supposedly easy to install and maintain. A pilot program will launch in September with four bike depots."
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Montreal's Public Bikes To Use Web, RFID, Solar

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  • power (Score:4, Interesting)

    by weirdcrashingnoises (1151951) on Sunday June 22, 2008 @03:15AM (#23892211) Journal

    they should just have capacitors (or whatever) on/in the bikes that store up energy whenever brakes are used, then when the bike is returned, all the bikes all stored energy can be released back onto the grid, perhaps which could then be transfered as credit or whatever and give a discount for renting the bike.

    heck, maybe if u ride enough you could make money by way of power generation

    yes thats all probably ridiculous, but it's 3am so idfc lol

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by atarione (601740)

      that is a pretty good idea but it seems like a real long extension cord might be better (and it is only 1 am here =p)

    • Re:power (Score:5, Informative)

      by Kjella (173770) on Sunday June 22, 2008 @04:39AM (#23892529) Homepage

      KISS and Keep It Cheap.

      Some of the biggest issues with public bikes is vandalism, people not returning the bikes or plain old carelessny. Attaching some probably expensive power generrator thingie to the bikes? Bad idea. At a time it was so bad here, they considered making it members only. Not that membership involved much more than basicly getting your personal card, but it'd ruin the use for tourists and such. In the end we didn't have to, but you call tell by the bike type what it's all about. Cheap, sturdy bike with no gears designed for moving in the flat city only, it's as stripped as it gets.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by twig_nl (906935)

        Cheap, sturdy bike with no gears designed for moving in the flat city only, it's as stripped as it gets.

        This might make some sense when traveling east-west, but north-south Montreal is far from being a 'flat city', particularly downtown (in the Ville-Marie borough, where one of the four pilot depots is planned). Unless people can shift down to climb hills more easily, won't all the bikes end up at the southernmost depot?
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by a10_es (579819)
          This effect has been noticed in Barcelona.
          Despite have a simple gear mechanism (I think it's this one [wikipedia.org], with 3 settings), the higher areas tend to have no bikes and the lower ones no empty spaces to leave them.
          However, the bikes are distributed regularly using vans.
        • > won't all the bikes end up at the southernmost depot?

          Yes, they will. In Paris, they have trucks that regularly returns the bikes uphill. It's like a brilliant fusion of cycling and mass transport. Riders go downhill, and bikes get batch-shipped back up.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by varcher (156670)

            To be honest, they have introduced a credit system. Whenever you leave a bike on an uphill depot, you get credited of 15 unmetered minutes for this rental, or any further one. This works only for year-long subscribers, not daily tickets.
             
            The mini-trucks are gas powered, and "eco friendly". Supposedly.

      • I used to race bikes competitively and still do a lot of races. My bike is close-to $3,000. I prefer to ride it over the "cheaper" bikes as its lighter, faster and more agile. Were it not for very aggressive drivers on the road, in a city section I can usually keep pace with cars. IMO, having bikes as a main transportation for the physically able would reduce waist-lines and dependency on oil. It does mean people need to live closer to work and shopping.

        The biggest problem with expensive bikes, and the reas

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by astrosmash (3561)

      they should just have capacitors (or whatever) on/in the bikes that store up energy whenever brakes are used
      Great idea! We just need figure out how the "or whatever" is going to work.

      heck, maybe if u ride enough you could make money by way of power generation
      maybe

      yes thats all probably ridiculous, but it's 3am so idfc lol
      totally
    • they should just have capacitors (or whatever) on/in the bikes that store up energy whenever brakes are used, then when the bike is returned, all the bikes all stored energy can be released back onto the grid, perhaps which could then be transfered as credit or whatever and give a discount for renting the bike.

      heck, maybe if u ride enough you could make money by way of power generation

      If we're making up dream tech, then they SHOULD have used flying bikes that cure cancer. That's way better.

  • by QuantumTheologian (1155137) on Sunday June 22, 2008 @03:29AM (#23892255)
    I'm just guessing, but the bicycle may not be the best means of transportation in the winter, particularly in Montreal.
    • by Red Dwarf (82569) on Sunday June 22, 2008 @03:51AM (#23892341) Homepage

      Not for too long with global warming!

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by HJED (1304957)
        Yes, then they will have to wear even warmer clothes seeing as global warming will cause an ice age
    • by AchilleTalon (540925) on Sunday June 22, 2008 @04:51AM (#23892571) Homepage
      There is not much snow in Montreal until end of December and not much after end of March, so, bicycles are usable nine months a year. Do let be confuse, Montreal is still far from Iqaluit.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by RealGrouchy (943109)

        Not to mention that Montreal clears the bike paths of snow and publishes a list of which paths are cleared.

        Also, 9 times out of 10, it isn't snowing and the roads a clear. Winter cycling really isn't very hard at all. It sure beats standing still waiting for the #$@&! bus.

        - RG>

    • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

      the bicycle may not be the best means of transportation in the winter
      If I can ride through a Chicago winter, I'm sure Terence and Philip can ride up in Montreal.
      • by strabes (1075839)
        You're a braver man (I assume) than I. Perhaps it's because I'm from Las Vegas and live there when I'm not at school in Chicago.
    • by conner_bw (120497)

      Winter is only 3 to 4 months out of 12. Montreal is proud of its reputation as one of the largest bicycle friendly cities in the world with over 400 miles (660 km's) of bicycle paths. Bicycling Magazine has named Montreal the number one cycling city (among cities of over one million inhabitants) in North America. We have a lot of people riding bikes regularly as a daily mode of transportation.

    • by c_fel (927677)
      We do have bike paths where the snow is cleared all year long. And since all the snow is cleared from the streets after a storm, there's not much snow in Montreal during Winter.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    It sounds awfully like... exactly the same thing. But in Paris you can use them 12 months a year. In Montreal, as soon as the ground ice-freezes or more than 50cm of snow accumulates, the bikes will basically become useless.

    -> http://www.en.velib.paris.fr/comment_ca_marche

    Julien

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Mornedhel (961946)

      Paris wasn't the first city in France to implement those (unless you count the RATP short-lived bike rental service, with probably a total of fifty bikes in the entire city at its peak). Lyon at least predated Vélib with its Vélov system. Yeah, dunno why the apostrophe trend.

      The project currently being pushed by Delanoë (mayor of Paris) is also noteworthy : the goal is to have the same system as Vélib, but with cars. Dunno if it will work as well, though, since you still need a l

  • Am I the only one who read the title and pictured futuristic solar powered electric bicycles with web browsers attached? I think it's more the bike system that's using Web, RFID and solar...
    • Sorry about replying to myself, poor form I know, but this ladies and gentlemen is what the preview button is for: checking that you closed your tags properly. "System" was all that should have been italicised.
  • And all they have to do, with their little computerized system, is to make sure that the supply is low enough at key spots to keep the rental price high. What a scam.

    By the way, someone mentioned that Montreal keeps its road plowed. That does not much matter, since a snow plow often makes the road slicker than leaving some powder snow alone. On the other hand, I do not believe that there are any logical objections to using bicycles that have walnut-shell or metal-studded tires.
    • by AuMatar (183847)

      Objections to using them? No. Reasons to think anyone doing it is fucking insane? Yes. Of course you have a screw loose to be biking on a busy non-residential street anyway- you're a vehicle weighing maybe 250 lbs, traveling with vehicles weighing half a ton, with limited maneuverability, lower speed, and balance issues. You're hard to see, increasing the likelihood of accidents. On top of that, you're going at half the speed of the cars, which in any type of traffic just pisses people off- and it c

  • by im_thatoneguy (819432) on Sunday June 22, 2008 @04:56AM (#23892595)
    From the Feature List:

    Easy access for people with limited mobility.
    But... it's a bicycle that they get. What are people with limited mobility going to do with the bicycle?
    • by Mr. Bad Example (31092) on Sunday June 22, 2008 @07:51AM (#23893255) Homepage

      > What are people with limited mobility going to do with the bicycle?

      "Limited mobility" doesn't mean "completely immobile". I, for example, have some orthopedic problems that make it really painful to walk further than about a mile or stand on my feet for more than an hour at a time. A bicycle would greatly extend my range by taking most of the strain off my feet.

      (Of course, I don't really have anywhere to store one, and the hills around here are bastards, but that's a whole other subject...)

      • A bicycle would greatly extend my range by taking most of the strain off my feet.
        I'm curious to know what part of your body you intend to use to push the pedals...
        • I'm curious to know what part of your body you intend to use to push the pedals...

          Thighs, mostly, and momentum, dumbass. I, too, have mobility issues (compartment syndrome, post necrotic right leg, no extensors on right leg, etc).

          With the resultant dropped foot, and missing muscles, standing is torture, much sooner than the OP's note, and walking several miles used to result in a squishy sound from a right sneaker full of blood, but guess what, Mr. Clueless re:Physics? At the same time I was riding a Trek

          • dumbass.
              Mr. Clueless
            continue to live and take up space. Your choice.
            it stumps you.
            Clueless toad.
            Sucks to be you.

            Boy I'm glad I'm a real human, and not an embarassment to the species, like you.

            • Boy I'm glad I'm a real human, and not an embarassment to the species, like you

              Sure. Just keep telling yourself that. Oh, and add "dishonest asshole" to the list, and wear it with pride, asswipe.

              • asshole
                asswipe
                Yup, making the species real proud there, crippy.
                Your mind seems as functional as your limbs. Good thing for you that worthwhile organisms made rolling machines to replace your legs, and word processing machines to replace your brain.

                Wastes of skin like you must be happy you're not thrown off a cliff, as you ought to. But we real people sure could do without your kind.

    • by zuvembi (30889)

      As the poster above me mentioned, just because someone has impaired mobility, doesn't mean they can't use a bike. I know multiple people who have trouble walking more than a few blocks or standing stationary. Yet, they can ride the bicycle for miles and miles. In fact, some of them probably do more miles in a year than the average person does ever.

      For them the bicycle is a real mobility aid. If they didn't have it they would be reduced to a wheelchair, walker, or possibly one of those electric scooters.

    • by Ksevio (865461)
      Limited mobility could also mean people that don't have a car of bicycle already, their long range mobility is limited so a bicycle would help that.
    • by v1 (525388) on Sunday June 22, 2008 @01:28PM (#23895535) Homepage Journal

      it's also possible the bicycles could be the three wheeled variety. I see them around these parts from time to time for people that can't stand for long periods of time. Usually a large basket on the front too so they can do minor shopping etc.

      I was also very surprised to see TWO bikes in the last month being ridden by paraplegics. (no legs) The bikes look a bit like recumbents in that their seat is very close to the ground. The energy is supplied by a cam system on the handlebars, which moves back and forth in addition to twisting for steering. The forward and backward motion moves the bike. Those two had some serious muscle in their arms, and could easily keep pace with others. Beats the heck out of a wheelchair and is an uplifting sight to see on the bicycle trails.

  • Check in www.bicing.com. Pretty cool, pretty functional. I'm a happy user since more then 13 months... :)
  • by ayjay29 (144994) on Sunday June 22, 2008 @05:20AM (#23892675)

    We have had this [wikipedia.org] in sweden for a while now. It seems to be pretty successful. I have not used it, as i have my own bike, but i see a lot of people ridnig around on them.
     

    • by flurdy (301431) on Sunday June 22, 2008 @09:04AM (#23893595) Homepage

      Got them in Oslo, Norway [oslobysykkel.no] too.

      I use them all the time, they make getting around town so easy.

      • You dont need to worry about locking up your own bike.
      • You dont need to get back to a specific spot to pick your own bike.
      • You are not forced to go both ways by bike. You can cycle to town, the get a tram, tube, taxi etc home later if you want to.
      • You dont spend 20mins trying to find parking for your car
      • You dont spend 10mins waiting for a tram
      • You can go directions where public transport might not go directly
      • It only costs 70kr/year which is about $14 as the bikes and bikesheds are sponsored with ads.

      The system here also has a realtime website with status of their 90ish depots/bikesheds. And if the one you are at is empty, then the screen lists the status of nearby depots.

      There are some drawbacks with the free city bikes:

      • It is too popular, often the bike rails are empty
      • People tend to go the same directions/places at the same time. So even with trucks driving around to redistribute the bikes, the ones on the city centre limits are during day time often empty and the ones in the centre are full.
      • Even with constant maintenance some of the bikes have taken a beating
      • Some people steal the free city bikes. Makes no sense to me, as they are virtually free.

      So I fully recommend them, it has made us get about town so much easier and quicker (and thus more often), but they are only useful if the depots are everywhere and stocked up.

  • by brundlefly (189430) on Sunday June 22, 2008 @05:46AM (#23892759)

    Have you seen how successful the public bicycle system is in Paris? It's a generation older in terms of tech, but it continues to be a great success. Being able to simply grab (rent) a bike and ride the 15-20 blocks you might need to travel, doing this above ground in a physically exhilarating and liberating fashion (compared to a bus/metro/taxi)... this is all most excellent.

    The geek criticism of this technology for its "privacy concerns" and for its "technological weak points" is probably all logically sound. But the very same people who are making these points are also very likely the most keyboard-bound (by habit) people. They are perhaps failing to see the practical gains here, in favor of racing to point out academic faults. To them I say:

    Dude! If ever anyone needed a digital rent-a-bike to get you off your ass, it's you! Who do you think they are making this for? It's not the carousing moron with bad credit and too many kids. It's not Dr. MD-PhD who drives to his practice to check his schedule for next week. It's you, pal.

    • by MtViewGuy (197597)

      Being able to simply grab (rent) a bike and ride the 15-20 blocks you might need to travel, doing this above ground in a physically exhilarating and liberating fashion (compared to a bus/metro/taxi)... this is all most excellent.

      Ah, no thanks, especially considering the air pollution you get in a densely-populated city like Paris with all that automobile, truck and bus traffic. I'll wait until every vehicle on Paris streets are either Euro 6 emissions-compliant, run off natural gas, are hybrids/plug-in hybr

      • Ah, no thanks, especially considering the air pollution you get in a densely-populated city like Paris with all that automobile, truck and bus traffic. I'll wait until every vehicle on Paris streets are either Euro 6 emissions-compliant, run off natural gas, are hybrids/plug-in hybrids and/or all-electric.

        Well, reducing traffic pollution is kind of the entire point of the Vélib system, isn't it ? I'd say bikes are Euro 6 emissions-compliant. And natural gas is a hazard in closed car parks, of which there are quite a few in the city.

        Oh, and the buses are already going towards low-emission.

        • While buses and delivery trucks are going to clean-burning CNG in Paris, you still have the problem of a lot of automobiles fuelled by diesel fuel, and unlike the USA, European diesel emission standards are nowhere as strict as in the USA. Given the huge amount of new cars sold in Europe with diesel engines, they need to make them much cleaner in terms of NOx and diesel particulate output to reduce the serious air pollution problems in cities.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Archon-X (264195)

        From your post, I'm going to make the assumption that you've never been to Paris.

        Whilst there is traffic in Paris, as with every city - not everyone owns a car.
        Public transport is highly convenient, and heavily utilised.
        Parking is expensive, petrol is hard to source in the city, and having a garage where you live is next to impossible.

        Drivers are very conscientious of bicycles, and all in all, as per the parent poster, it's a really exhilirating and relaxing experience.

        I'm awfully sorry that you've not had

    • by Archon-X (264195) on Sunday June 22, 2008 @06:17AM (#23892899)

      It will be the 1 year anniversary of the Velib system in Paris in a few weeks time.
      I was looking at the figures the other day - there are over 20,000 bikes now [100% more than when launched] - and 1,450 stations.

      It seems to be a very mixed demographic that uses them - you'll see a lot of students, and a lot of older folk as well.
      From my point of view, there definitely seem to be less tourists using them - it may catch on though.

      The system, however, is fantastic. Most people over here don't have enough space to have their own bike, and being able to grab one to ride to a friend's house, or shorten a walk home, or simply take advantage of a sunny day, for 1 Euro - fantastic.

      And, summer brings girls in sundresses onto bicycles!

      • The system wasn't design for tourist in the first place. It's a "personal public transport" mainly focus on Parisian.

        It's a bit complicate to rent a bike if you don't already have a navigo card ( the RFID public transport card http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Navigo [wikipedia.org]). And non smart credit card ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carte_Bleue [wikipedia.org] ) aren't supported.

        It's a bit risky too to ride in Paris if you are unaware of the drives use.

        The system is fantastic, when the public transport are on strike, at night ( no subw

        • by Archon-X (264195)

          Whilst not primarily for tourists, the system is designed in 6 languages.

          I don't own a navigo. Renting is as follows
            - Hire a bike, tap 2
            - Short duration, tap 1
            - Accept conditions, enter card, take bike

          I've never found Parisian traffic difficult, but I guess it depends where you're riding. Rondpoint Charles de Gaule Etoile? Sure, you're in for a treat. Small streets around Paris? No issues.

          That said, riding at night is wonderful.

  • The GooglePlex - Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California, has several buildings. There are some other businesses there too, so it can be a bit of a walk to visit another building.

    So they keep bicycles by each door. They're very inexpensive single-speed bikes, with flags on tall poles. They're cheap enough that they don't worry about them being stolen.

    And no, I don't work there - I've visited a couple times.

  • ...is being developed by Prof Bill Mitchell at MIT. This link is to a radio interview [abc.net.au]with him in March.
  • Having lived in Montreal for many years I can tell you their so-called great system sucks.

    The average road size in downtown Montreal is two lanes plus one parking lane. Parking is already impossible to find and one out of the two driving lanes is almost always blocked by construction, delivery trucks or some driver taking a left turn. So you're already down to one usable lane.

    Now these idiots come along and pave *permanent* bike lanes (enforced with a concrete separator) in a country that sees Winter 3/4th

    • As alluded to in the parent, Montreal this past year devoted an entire lane of a one-way street called de Maisonneuve to a bike path and removed some crucial parking space.

      But many idiot cyclists don't use it. They continue to bike on Sherbrooke, one block north, which for most of its length is only one and a half lanes of traffic each way plus a parking lane.

      That's bad enough, but the idiot cyclists ignore traffic regulations like stop signs and red lights, so you have all this vehicle traffic that

  • We've got something similar here in Buffalo. Members can check out a bike from the web site and return it to any of the "hubs" around town, and then check it back in.

    The biggest thing people always worry about is theft, but since the work is all done by volunteers and the bikes are all donations or cheapies from police auction, someone would have to steal a half-dozen bikes a year to eclipse their $15 membership fee.

    --saint

  • I was loving this until I saw the September launch date. WTF? Here, folks, have some bikes for 45 days. Then we'll see you in six months when the snow melts.

    Nice to see this for next year, though. Traffic is awful.

  • Always remember... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Sunday June 22, 2008 @05:14PM (#23897361) Homepage
    ...that this kidn of system relies on the goodwill of its users. No matter how complicated you make the system, someone's bound to mess with it some time [www.ccc.de].
  • ...I was more of a fan of Josh Kinberg's Bikes Against Bush [bikesagainstbush.com], though the prototype was confiscated by the police (and its creator jailed for a few days).

When Dexter's on the Internet, can Hell be far behind?"

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