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Montreal RFID-enabled Bike Project Picks Up Speed

The city provides an update on its plan to roll out RFID-enabled bicycles that commuters can use for short trips from transit stations to an office or store.
By Claire Swedberg
Jul 17, 2008The city of Montreal is making headway on its plans, announced last month, to deploy an RFID system for renting bicycles. The Public Bike System, managed by the city's parking authority, the Stationnement de Montreal, will share a software platform with the parking-meter solution the city has been using for cars since 2003.

Both the parking and bike-rental systems are being provided by wireless solutions company 8D Technologies, which also designed and built the systems' RFID hardware. The city has already replaced 16,000 single-space parking meters with 350 solar-powered parking terminals that transmit data regarding filled parking spaces via a GPRS cellular transmission to a third-party hosting system using 8D software.

Montreal commuters are being encouraged to use RFID-enabled bicycles for short trips from transit stations to an office or store.

Now, says Alain Ayotte, executive VP of Stationnement de Montreal, the city is building onto the existing parking system with bike rentals that will be tracked using RFID tags on the bicycles and interrogators on bike docks connected to solar powered bike stations. Beginning in September of this year, Montreal will provide 40 bicycles at four modular stations—each with 10 docks for bike storage—that can be installed at various locations throughout the city. After trialing the system with the public, the city intends to purchase 300 stations and 2,400 bikes for deployment in spring 2009.

Like the new parking terminals, the bike stations are solar-powered and employ a cellular GPRS connection to communicate with back-end software. Therefore, the stations can be placed wherever the city chooses—and because they are modular, they can be relocated as demand changes. "One of the advantages we have with our solution," says Isabelle Bettez, co-owner and CEO of 8D Technologies, "is that the station could be put on one corner one day, then taken down and put somewhere else overnight."

The project is part of a mandate from the city of Montreal for the parking authority to encourage an increase in bicycle and public transit use. For instance, additional commuters would be able to take public transportation if they had access to a bike that would transport them from the transit station to their offices. "The service we want to offer is short-term," says Ayotte, meaning a user would pick up a bicycle at one docking station, ride a short distance to an office or transit station, then return the bike to another docking station, all within 30 or 40 minutes.

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