For years I've envied the residents of Amsterdam for their ubiquitous hop on hop off use of the bicycle as a standard means of local transportation. Granted, those narrow medieval roads and abundance of canals were constructed long before the arrival of the automobile, subsequently making vehicular navigation irksome and leaving the bicycle ideally-suited to the charms of Amsterdam's built environment. Regardless, I admire how a city's psyche rooted in the supremacy of cycling means pedaling citizens travel through their daily life at a pace that doesn't exceed their own human power; inherently connects people to nature and the changing seasons; enhances agility; and integrates cardio as an essential part of health and well-being. That's a great way to foster a happy population, and a dramatic contrast to North American's obsession with the automobile. Blech!
And then there's cool Paris, who in 2007 introduced their own bicycle rental system called the Vélib’. Spectacularly successful, Vélib’ now has 20,600 bicycles located in 1,450 bike stations, which is roughly one station every 300 metres throughout the city centre. That makes it the largest system of its kind in the world. Oui! Oui!
To my delight, Toronto has the newly arrived BIXI Toronto. Approved by City Council last May, the Public Bicycles System Company is providing the City of Toronto with a network of bikes throughout the downtown core. BIXI Docking stations will allow users to pick up, and drop off bicycles from location to location, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. On completion the system will include 1,000 bikes, 80 BIXI stations and 1,500 docking points in Toronto's downtown core. This is the first large-scale bike sharing system in North America. Regular users of the system will purchase a pass for periods of time ranging from one month to one year and will receive a BIXI key. Members can use their BIXI key to take out a bike at any station in the network. Non-members can purchase a 24-hour pass. What I especially love is, if you return the bike within thirty minutes, there is no cost. You only pay for trips which exceed 30 minutes. How cool is that? Click HERE for more details on the city's website.
Below is a full-on Spring Bloom location at the University of Toronto on the corner of Huron and Harbord Streets.
Now, some of you may be wondering "What does this have to do with real estate?" Well, as fuel becomes prohibitively expensive, traffic congestion becomes gridlock, and commutes times extend into aggravating, being in proximity to an urban amenity like BIXI is going to pave the road gold for real estate values. Mark my words, in our near future, living within easy access to BIXI will be one of the added values associated with the "location location location" mantra of real estate.