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BIXI riding wave of popularity as Free Sunday program makes its return

Free BIXI Sundays are back for a third year. Sunday, May 27, 2018. Brayden Jagger Haines/Global News

BIXI, Montreal’s bike-sharing system, kicked off another season of Free BIXI Sunday’s.

Every last Sunday of the month, from now to the end of October, Montrealers can hop on a BIXI bike and ride around the city, free of charge.

The initiative started in 2016 and aims to encourage Montrealers to use the bike-sharing service for their daily commute.

“It’s a good occasion to ride a BIXI for people who haven’t tried it,” said Pierre Parent, BIXI’s director of marketing and communications.

To make things even easier, 40 of the city’s busiest stations also have information officers to answer any questions.

“We have valet at each of the stations that are helping people to rent and discover how to rent a bike,” Parent said.

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READ MORE: As Bixi season ends, Montreal’s bike-share service reports record-breaking year

The popularity of the bike-sharing system has been growing in popularity over the years, with ridership during the week increasing by 34 per cent in the past two years. Weekend ridership soared to 46 per cent, not including Free Sundays.

Parent attributes the growth in ridership to various factors, including ease of access to the bikes.

“We have 540 stations all around town,” Parent said. “We try to make the bikes available on a pendulum approach.”

He explained that it’s a system that BIXI has been perfecting over the years and requires a lot of logistics.

“In the morning we make sure all the boroughs in Montreal have bikes available, and at the end of the day, when people are leaving work, the bikes are available,” Parent said.

READ MORE: Bixi and STM partner up for pilot project in Montreal

He also believes the bikes are user-friendly and more and more people are discovering the many advantages of travelling on two wheels.

“It is quite easy actually and it’s quite fun, especially if you’ve got all this traffic in town,” Parent said.

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“If you’ve got all this construction happening, getting to work in the morning is easier if you bike and you can go straight there, without having to get struck in the traffic for so long.”

Currently,  the BIXI network consists of 6,250 bikes and 540 stations in Montreal, Longueuil and Westmount.

With its growing popularity, Parent said he hopes the non-profit will be able to expand the network in the near future.

“We’re definitely hoping to have more bikes on the road next year, more stations, this is something we will be discussing over the next couple of weeks and we’d love to be able to announce.”

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