By Sheryl Smolkin
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Lawyer Ari Kaplan figures that by using BIXI bikes to get around downtown, he saves at least $180 a month in TTC and taxi fares, plus the cost of gas, parking and car maintenance. And the added bonus is that by biking, he gets exercise at a time of day when he would normally be sedentary.
The busy pension lawyer and head of licensing at indie label Paper Bag Records lives at Harbord St. and Spadina Ave. He picks up a bike less than a block from home and commutes to and from work at Yonge and Queen three times a week or more.
“The only time I don’t use a BIXI is if I have an offsite meetings that is too far, or if I’m picking up my children because I’m driving carpool,” he says.
Kaplan took out an annual BIXI membership for $90 last June. That allows him unlimited pick up and drop off privileges providing he does not keep a bike for more than 30 minutes at a time.
When he signed up he thought that by October it would be too cold to bike. In fact, due to the mild winter this year he never stopped and BIXI records show that in January alone he logged 28 separate trips. “Even on the coldest days, once I got used to it I realized it was no big deal,” he says.
There are 80 stations with 1,000 bikes in an area roughly bounded by Parliament, the Lakeshore, Bathurst and Bloor. The system is accessible to everyone, 24/7 and 12 months of the year.
A one year membership currently costs $95 + HST. You can also purchase a 30-day subscription ($40), 72 hour access for $12 and 24 hour access for $5. There are additional charges if a bike is not returned to a BIXI station within 30 minutes.
While Kaplan likes saving money, as far as he is concerned this is a collateral advantage. “The health-related benefits plus the fact that I am using my car and other forms of gas-based transportation so much less are what I like best,” he says.
BIXI also operates in Montreal, Ottawa/Gatineau, London, Melbourne, Washington, Minneapolis and Boston.