Two years ago, I suggested to a manager at the Westin in Ottawa that they should embrace cycling tourism more, being located right on the canal with its pathways, a World Heritage Site no less. He paused and then asked “But Hans, who arrives on a bike with three suitcases?‘” I had to explain to him that his guests might want to go for a bike ride after a dull day in a congress or perhaps stay longer if they knew about the many local bike routes. Meanwhile, the Minto on Laurier and Lyon has dozens of bikes out for a few years now, free to use for their guests, which my colleagues from out of town really appreciate when they are visiting. Having bikes brings guests to your hotel and they might stay longer once they know of the bike opportunities here.
No changes for 2013
In 2012, CapitaleBixi added 150 bikes to the fleet of 100 and increased the number of stations to 25. This year, in 2013, no changes are coming, other than some tweaks in the locations. Rolling out a system like this is somewhat finicky as you don’t want the stations too far apart: if one of the stations is out of bikes (or full for that matter), you should be able to walk to the next one to pick up or drop off your bike. Just like Vrtucar, one has to add stations like layers of an onion. It is probably not a bad idea to take a breather because comparing data might be easier with the same number of bikes and stations. There was tremendous growth year-over-year. In 2011, we saw about 21.000 rides, this year the numbers doubled, showing a rapidly growing appetite for casual cycling in the region.
Bixi 2012 data promising
Two weeks ago Citizens for Safe Cycling organised its second highly successful ‘Spring.Bike.Otawa’ bike season opener and invited a number of local organisations and individuals to talk about cycling. The NCC, a strong promoter of cycling in the National Capital Region as a means of clean transportation for both commuters and tourists, shared some interesting data with us. I copied a handful of sheets to share with those who couldn’t come.
After the second year, some careful conclusions:
Rapidly growing appetite for casual cycling
40% of the trips made by 300 members, 60% by casual users
Casual users cycle longer, likely tourists
Tourists embrace cycling as a means of transport within the city
Tourists embrace cycling as one of the ‘things to do in the Capital region’ activity
The Bixi Bike is growing in popularity in both cities
Percentage of interprovincial drop offs is lower, indicating people chose a tour rather than a destination?
The city and the NCC should expand on this growing interest in casual cycling in their communications towards both commuters and tourists.