In Montreal, the journalist Louis-Philippe Messier is mainly on the run, with his office in his backpack, looking for fascinating topics and people. He speaks to everyone and is interested in all areas of life in this city chronicle.
Ten years after the arrival of BIXI in Montreal, this summer the city of Quebec has more fully implemented its own system of self-service bikes, adapted to its many extremely steep streets. And I prefer…
The one from Quebec! It’s not called BIXI, but àVélo. These gears aren’t gunmetal gray or pale blue, they’re black.
Montrealers on a trip to Quebec won’t be disoriented by this model, which is fairly closely modeled after the Metropolis, as these frames are also E-Fit and made by Cycles Devinci.
The main difference between the two services?
There are only e-bikes in Québec… otherwise they’ll all end up in the lower town!
Photo Louis Philippe Messier
àVélo’s bike-sharing system is similar to that of BIXI.
Who would have the courage and strength to defy gravity by climbing a 45 degree slope on a “heavy” mechanical bike like a BIXI?
Even in Montreal, a city with relatively flat terrain, mechanical BIXIs have the unfortunate tendency to sink far more often than they rise.
After a short test phase with ten stations and a hundred mounts last summer, àVélo took the nation’s capital by storm this summer with 40 stations and 400 bikes.
Already in touristic Quebec we see them circulating everywhere.
“Next year there will be 70 stations and 700 bicycles, then 100 stations and 1,000 bicycles in 2024,” explains Brigitte Lemay from the Capital Transport Network.
Seeing two smiling seniors effortlessly pedaling uphill on àVélo, I felt a burst of optimism for the future of this service.
Having walked a lot in Quebec, I know it’s not easy.
Photo Louis Philippe Messier
Catherine Bonneau recently signed up.
Therefore, even if àVélo will not catch up with the 600 BIXI stations so quickly, I predict relatively greater success due to the difficult climbs to be climbed on foot.
If it’s easier and faster to climb hills with a àVélo than on two feet, that’s guaranteed to be popular.
In the rue Saint-Jean, I get on my àVélo at the end of the rue Claire-Fontaine, which seems to me to have an incline of about 40 degrees.
No momentum for this test. In first gear, with motor assistance, I climb the 50 meters without difficulty… even if I have to make a little effort towards the end.
It would have been more strenuous to climb it on foot.
At the top of the hill I question a passing “à Véloiste”.
“I subscribed to the program for a month because friends encouraged me and it’s really fun,” says Catherine Bonneau, director of the Les Gros Becs theatre.
“It will be much more convenient when the network is more extensive.”
Unlike BIXIs, àVélos are equipped with chains to lock them somewhere and a QR code for quick unlocking.
As in Montreal, workers are needed to change dead batteries.
Based on my experience, I wonder why the power of the àVélo assist motor isn’t even greater than it is now.
If even Quebec’s long steep climbs will be easy for a clientele who isn’t necessarily in good shape, the battle is won.