Toronto has a bike sharing co-op business in place, called Bixi. I've just spent two weeks in the city. And I like getting around on two wheels. Figured I'd give it a try.
Here's how it works. There are small stations with racks of Bixi bikes all over the place (within certain boundaries). You go to the kiosk at the end of the rack. Feed it a credit card. I got a day's rental, at five bucks (they keep a deposit, too). You get unlimited bike rentals for that period, with a maximum of thirty minutes for each trip (you're charged extra for longer rentals). The machine gives you an unlocking code. You choose one of the bikes (they're all the same), punch in your code, it unlocks, and you've got a bike.
The bikes are black and sturdy. Three gears. Adjustable seats. A small rack on the front with a bungee cord to attach your bag. Kickstand. Bell. And red lights on the rear forks that blink automatically when the wheels are in motion.
You pedal. You coast. You park it at the bixi rack nearest to your destination, locking it back in. End of rental.
They're commonly used. The bike racks aren't everywhere, but there are plenty of them, and I noticed them more as I soon as I was riding around. I noticed other riders, too. This seems to be catching on.
This fits Toronto quite well. It's a city with a dense urban core. It's a transit city - not everyone has a car, or believes they need one. People commonly walk. And take taxis. Some Torontonian friends of mine don't have drivers' licenses. And don't want them. It's also a reasonably flat city. And many streets have bike lanes.
This company has been sponsored by Telus (a giant telecommunications corporation) as well as Desjardins - a Quebec based bank. Short-term rental bikes aren't a natural extension of either company's business. But any major company in the midst of the information revolution keeps an eye on how the world is changing, and tries to position itself on the leading edge.
Bixi's also set up in Montreal and Ottawa/Gatineau. There are similar bike share businesses in London (UK), London, Ontario, Melbourne, Barcelona, Bordeaux, Washington DC/Arlington, Minneapolis, Boston, Chattanooga, Chicago, Boulder, Denver, Des Moines, Hawaii, Madison, Omaha, San Antonio, Spartanburg, and around Washington State University.
I received a t-shirt from a guy promoting the launch of car2go - a smart car co-op my girlfriend and I have been using in Vancouver for more than six months - in Toronto. My Vancouver membership works in Toronto, or so the t-shirt guy told me. Car2go is also set up in Calgary, Portland, San Diego, Miami, Washington, DC, Austin, Birmingham (UK), Amsterdam, Lyon, Berlin, Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Ulm and Vienna.
This could be here to stay. Millennials seem less likely to use their vehicles to advertise the size of their dicks. They'll vie for status, but with the up-to-date-ness of their technology. Including having the best and fastest portable devices with apps that'll find you the nearest available car or rental bike rack.