Kick your bike share game into high gear
If you live in Toronto or Montreal, you might be seeing a lot more orange around town — and not only from construction signs.
Tangerine has geared up new partnerships with Bike Share Toronto and BIXI Montreal. Already, the gleaming orange Toronto fleet and the blue-and-orange Montreal e-bikes have rolled onto the streets, ready to ride.
It's a fast, convenient, economical, and, most of all, fun way to get around both cities, and whether you're a bike-share veteran or new to the adventure, here are some tips to make the most out of it.
1. Go mobile: You can take out a bike just using a credit card, and Toronto members can use a key card to unlock a set of wheels. But the BIXI mobile app and the Bike Share Toronto mobile site kick the convenience up to the next gear. Scan the map, find your nearest station, and use your device to instantly unlock your bike of choice.
2. Buy a pass: If you don't already have a pass, you can purchase one in advance. Both services offer a pay-as-you-go pass, where you pay by the minute for as long as you ride. This can be great for visitors or occasional users. There are also various tiers of memberships available, which can be a more economical option for locals and regulars. Click for the full pricing details for Bike Share Toronto and BIXI Montreal.
3. Understand what the pass is for: Let's say you've just purchased a short-term pass or membership. This gives you unlimited rides for the duration of the pass as long as each ride is below the specified time limit. (This can be 30, 45 or 90 minutes, depending on the pass.) When you exceed the time limit, you'll be charged a small fee for every additional minute. Note: with e-bikes, there's no grace period. You're always paying by the minute.
4. Fashion tip: Wear a colour that goes well with bright orange.
5. Plan your journey: Confirm your origin and destination. Use your mobile device (see above) to check that there are bikes available nearby and that there are empty slots available at your destination. This is especially important for e-bikes, where you're paying by the minute — you wouldn't want to have to ride from station to station looking for available slots.
6. Use a bike valet during peak hours: Some stations are bound to get overloaded with bike traffic during rush hour, or before a concert or sporting event. This is why both Toronto and Montreal offer free valet service at certain locations during peak hours, to ensure everyone can safely drop off their bike without having to worry whether a slot is available.
7. Safety tip: Wear a helmet. Orange detailing optional.
8. Plan your journey, part two: Find the best bike routes along the way. Montreal has a well-established system of bike lanes and paths — and Toronto has come a long way too, in recent years — but it's still possible to wind up on a bike-unfriendly street.
9. No stamina? No problem: If you're concerned about steep inclines heading up Mt. Royal, for instance, or the Don Valley, an e-bike rental can help you conquer your fears along with those hills.
10. Choose the right bike for you: This can be a matter of preference, but I tend to choose my three-speed steed based on seat, which can differ from bike to bike. I also look for one that appears newer, though that doesn't necessarily indicate a smoother ride.
11. Inspect it: Bell? Check. Inflated tires? Check. Give it a little shake. (I'm not sure why people do this, but I've also picked up the habit.) Adjust the height of the saddle. Now you're good to go. If you're riding an e-bike, check the battery charge indicator to confirm how much power you've got left.
12. Send it for repairs: If there's an issue with the bike, you can return it, and press the "wrench" button on the dock to alert maintenance staff. You can then use your pass to take out another.
13. Plan a pit stop: If you're doing an extra-long route, consider points along the way where you can exchange bikes to reset your 30- or 45-minute grace period. In Toronto, for instance, the system extends from Marie Curtis Park in the west to Rouge National Urban Park in the east, a route that extends more than 50 kilometres and can last two to three hours on a non-motorized bike. Need pit stop inspiration? Check out these fun suggestions for Toronto and Montreal.
14. Ride alert: Watch out for pedestrians, drivers, pets, potholes, strollers, other cyclists and, in Toronto, streetcar tracks.
15. Get cash back: Did you know? You could earn 2% cash back when you pay for your membership with a Tangerine Credit Card by choosing “Transportation" as one of your 2% Money-Back Categories. Click to find out more about our partnerships with BIXI Montreal and Bike Share Toronto.
16. Be courteous: Ring that bell!
17. Most importantly: Have fun while the weather lasts.
—Written by Ariel Teplitsky