Canadian Bikeshare System Struggling to Survive

Does Bixi's financial problems, stemming from cities withholding payments, signal the beginning of the end of America's bikeshare experiment? asks Time's Christopher Matthews.

Published: 29-Jan-2014

The Montreal-based bike-sharing company Bixi is like something out of a right-wing nightmare. The firm is a government-owned entity, in Francophone Canada, that sells solar-powered bike-share equipment for cities around the world. And yesterday, the company filed for bankruptcy protection, citing $50 million in debts. Part of the shortfall comes from $5.6 million owed the company by bike-sharing programs in New York City and Chicago, payments that have been withheld because of widespread problems with the company’s software which reportedly have caused many users to be unable to rent or return bikes.

The question now is whether this is the beginning of the end for the bike-sharing experiments that have spread quickly across the U.S. So far, officials from various bike-sharing programs are saying no. “Companies operate under bankruptcy frequently. I would be shocked if the whole system here were curtailed,” said one Chicago official who has worked on that city’s bike-share program, according to the Chicago Tribune. “Worst case, [we] find a new supplier.’’

Alta Bicycle Share, which administers New York City’s program, wrote on its website, “Our systems across the country … are up and running and ABS will ensure that they continue to operate without interruption.”

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