While BikeShare struggles to re-open its popular program, city hall may beat them to the punch.
Yesterday, the Star discussed a new bike rental program modeled after those which are ”tried and proven around the world.” Programs such as Paris’s Velib and Barcelona’s Bicing have been successful, and many other cities from Denver to D.C. are implementing similar ones. However, Toronto’s concerns about its tourism industry may be the driving force behind the move. “There’s a great demand already. Our office gets all kinds of phone calls from hotels asking where to get bicycles,” Councillor Adrian Heaps told the Star.
As with every good idea in this cash-starved city, it comes down to the same overarching question of funding. Heaps is quoted in the paper as saying the program will be financed by “advertising possibilities in a very modest form.”
While bicycles can’t be burdened by ads filled with fake food the same way transit shelters can, we certainly can imagine humble steel, in the hands of some of the city’s more audacious advertising companies, becoming vinyl-wrapped, Day-glo eyesores that no self-respecting gawker tourist would dare rent.
Aesthetic objections are not the only cause for concern. When the Star talked to Community Bicycle Network chair Herb van den Dool, he expressed doubts about the success a bike program could have without city funding. He told reporter Theresa Boyle that “whereas all the other programs [around the world] got subsidized by municipal governments in one way or another,” Toronto had not secured any.
However, Toronto’s program is still in the works, not to be announced until late fall and implemented next summer. “We need to determine where the best locations (for hubs) are. How many bicycles could work? Do we do it in the downtown core? Do we do it (where there are) subways and intermodal transportation hubs?” Heaps wondered to Boyle.
So there is still time for all you bipedalists to contact your councillor with your ideas and support, or disdain, for the program. We may not be able to garner as much public funding as European cities, but we can at least attempt to steer our collective decision makers down a smoother bike path.
Photo by DanielN from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.