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Meet an avid Chrono user for a glimpse into the BIXI winter season!

19 February 2024

Are you keen to know more about the winter biking experience? We met with Pierre-Olivier Lebeau, who is a sustainable modes enthusiast. He uses the Chrono app, which has all the features he needs to facilitate his trips by BIXI, bike or public transit. Learn more about his experience in this short interview!

How long have you been using the BIXI bike-sharing service?

“I’ve been using BIXI since I arrived in Montréal in 2017. I use the service in addition to my personal bike. BIXIs give me more freedom for spontaneous outings or getaways, whereas for my basic trips like going to the office, I enjoy using my own bike in the summer.”

What was your reaction when you learned that the BIXI service would be available year-round?

“I was really pleased. In fact, I’d been hoping for some time that the service would expand because it’s clear that bicycle use in Montréal is increasing steadily. The fact that the BIXI season hasn’t stopped in 2023-2024 is beyond my expectations. I would have thought that the season might just have been extended a little longer. I’m excited about the future because we can see that the service gets a lot of use.”

What are the advantages of using BIXI instead of your own bike in the winter? 

“Adapting a bike for winter is a fairly complex process. I’ve even taken a few courses on the subject! With Quebec’s climate, it’s important to maintain and prepare your bike properly. All of this takes time, space and knowledge. Despite these precautions, my experience has shown that a bike used in the winter wears out faster, particularly because of the salt and freezing temperatures. As for BIXIs, they’re looked after by specialized maintenance teams and are always ready to roll.

“Also, when you use your personal bike, you have to deal with a lock as well. I’ve had a few mishaps with frozen bike locks in the middle of winter. With BIXIs, they’re easy to unlock and to dock at the stations.

“I’d also add that BIXIs are sturdy, reliable bikes, perfect for winter riding, which requires extra vigilance.”

Where in the city do you like to ride in the winter?

“I’m a seasoned cyclist, so I enjoy riding on the bike paths as well as the roads. Of course, you have to be careful on the ice, and handle the curves properly.

“I also like to take the EBN (Express Bike Network) on Saint-Denis or the bike lane on Laurier. In the winter, it’s always reassuring when there are several other cyclists out riding too, like on the bike paths. You feel safer, and other road users (pedestrians, motorists, etc.) are more likely to see you.”

What tips would you give someone wanting to try BIXI in the winter?

“For now, winter BIXI service is in the pilot-project stage, so not all stations are in operation. It took me a while this winter to reconfigure my mental map of the network. So I’d suggest mapping out where the open stations are before starting out on your route.

“I’d also stress the importance of adapting your winter riding to each outing, because the ground conditions will vary significantly based on the temperature. You can’t ride as fast as in the summer, and you have to anticipate curves in the road. We know that helmets aren’t mandatory on BIXI bikes (with the exception of the electric bikes), but there’s a higher risk of taking a fall in the winter than the summer, so, for me, helmets are a must.

“Clothing is also a consideration when it comes to winter biking. I’d say that most often, I’m able to ride my bike in the same clothes I’d wear for walking outdoors in the winter, except for mittens, which are essential for protecting your hands on the handlebars! On harsher days, if you still want to cycle, it’s advisable to dress the same way you would if you were going cross-country skiing (warmly, but not too warmly since you’re going to be active). As for wearing a helmet, many cyclists use their ski helmets, which offer protection and warmth at the same time, and even their ski goggles, which come in handy in snowy conditions.”

BIXI included in the Chrono app

BIXI has been included in Chrono for several years now. You can quickly locate nearby stations and find out how many bikes are available, and then reserve and unlock your BIXI. Simply link your BIXI account to the Chrono mobile app. For people like Pierre-Olivier who use a range of transportation modes, it’s super convenient. Here’s what he has to say.

Have you tried reserving and unlocking a BIXI using the Chrono app?

“Yes, and it’s really handy. This winter in particular, with the modified BIXI network, it’s a good idea to find out in advance which stations are available and how many bikes are there. I’ve also added the BIXI stations that I use most often to my favourites, and I can check their bike availability as soon as I open the app.”

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