We already know that using a bike instead of an automobile is better for your health, the environment, and, often, more convenient. A new initiative in Montreal is set to launch to epitomize the means of urban transportation.

It’s called BIXI, a new public bike system that is available to everyone in the city, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, three seasons of the year, from May to November. (Stations will be removed during their harsher winter months).
bixi 300x225 Montreals new public bike rentals; BIXI
BIXI is a transportation plan, already in use in Europe, offering a convenient alternative for getting from A to B. Phase I, which is on its way May 6th, includes 3,000 bikes with 300 stations in three areas of Montreal: Ville-Marie, Plateau-Mont-Royal and Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie. Other stations will be available in Outremont, Sud-Ouest and Villeray–Saint-Michel with a second phase pending on how things pan out. (Click here to see where their stations are)

The BIXI bikes are a unique design developed specifically for the BIXI system. They include a carrying rack, active lighting and reflectors, three speeds and tires made for urban riding. The comfortable seat includes various height adjustments, and its manufactured with a low gravity centre for increased stability. They’ve kept safety in mind with front and internal breaks, a chain protector to avoid it getting caught in clothing, and a prime anti-theft system.

Getting on a BIXI is easy, with a simple self-serve system. The station holds bike docks and a solar power-run pay station, that automatically goes into a “sleep” mode to avoid energy draining when not in use. Users can easily type in their code or BIXI-key, then borrow their bike.

There is no maximum time you can borrow it (as long as your membership is active), but the way the pricing is set up, it encourages shorter trips. For every trip, for example, the first 30 minutes are free.

Subscriptions are an incredible deal, much cheaper than gas, public transportation, and quicker than walking on foot. One year subscriptions are just $78; or you can opt to try it for 30 days, at $28, or $5 for 24 hour access. After 30 minutes, the price increases per ride.

The BIXI system has been honoured in TIME magazine’s list of the best inventions of 2008. received the GOLD award for best product of 2009 in the Energy & Sustainability category of the Edison Best New Products Awards, and the designer, Michel Dallaire, received the éco-Design Award in the Product design/Sustainable development category for his BIXI bike prototype.

The public bike system will be up and running as of May 6th 2009.