Monday, July 26, 2010

How Bixi stations are located, or what it tells us about the priorities of the City of Montreal for our economic development

You probably don't know it yet, but you will know now: I currently live in the Point St-Charles neighborhood of Montreal. It's a poor, once Irish populated and train-industry related neighborhood. It is poor today, it has always been poor, but hopefully it won't always be poor.

Also, as you might know, the city of Montreal started a public bike system 2 years ago, called the Bixi. It's pretty popular; I have never used it in Montreal, but I used the Velib service in Paris, and I found it to be brilliant and extremely useful. Velib changed the way I see Paris, it gave me a new perspective on the city by allowing me to discover it from the street level while traveling at an acceptable speed and in a pleasant way.

I am one that firmly believes in the relation between infrastructure development and economic and social development: the three go hand-in-hand. I am also one that firmly believes that the main responsibility of governments should be the creation and maintenance of these infrastructures. Because of its large size and not-for-profit nature, governments are best at starting, creating and maintaining large infrastructure projects (obviously with the help of private entities, but the public vision is especially support is needed for building these infrastructures that are usually not revenue generating but quite the contrary).

All this lengthy explanation to say that there is only 1 Bixi station in Point St-Charles. I find this unacceptable and insulting. Basically, the city of Montreal does not care about my neighborhood, and does not want to help in lifting it out of its current situation and improving the lives of its citizens.

While le Plateau and Ville-Marie have hundreds is stations, while Cote-Des-Neiges has tens of stations, while St-Henry has about 5 stations, Point st-Charles has only 1. This is realty favoritism at a municipal government level. Good luck trying to make something different out of the Point if you don't try.

So I wrote a letter to the Bixi corporation. Hopefully they will reply.

Montreal, July 26th, 2010
To whom it may concern

I am writing with regards to the choice of location for Bixi station that your corporation has made and is currently masking.

I am a resident of the City of Montreal, the South-West borough. More precisely, I live in the Point-St-Charles neighborhood, on street XXXXXXX.

I find it appalling and strange that there is only a single Bixi station in my neighborhood (Point St-Charles). It is clear that your organization is under-serving the South-West, and favoring le Plateau and other neighborhoods around it. But the South-West has a rapidly growing youth population and is home to the Lachine Canal, a popular biking spot. I therefore do not understand the logic in not putting more stations in our neighborhood.

I also find that the fact that there is only a single station in the Point St-Charles is border-line insulting. Economic and human development comes hand-in-hand with infrastructure development. The Bixi is a fundamental new infrastructure, and you seem to have no intention to implant it in our neighborhood, which is located less than 10 min away by bicycle from the Atwater, Guy and Peel areas in downtown.

The Bixi network is need in the Point St-Charles in order to attract visitors, businesses, new residents, and in order to raise awareness about commuting issues, environmental protection and sustainability.

I expect a response to my email; do not hesitate to contact me, I will be greatly interested in learning about the future plans for Bixi stations around Montreal.

Thank you

Bellow is my (artistic) interpretation of how the Bixi corporation sees the utility/reality of the Bixi stations infrastructure.

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