Bixi : Description

Title: Population health impacts of an intervention to increase access to and user-friendliness of a means of active transportation : The case of BIXI Montreal
 
Project description 
 
Since its implementation in spring 2009, the BIXI program has provided access to 5000 self-service bicycles available at 411 stations in central and peripheral neighbourhoods on the island of Montréal. 
 
Many studies have confirmed that making changes to the built environment and improving access to active transportation have the potential to increase regular physical activity among the general population. To date, only a few programs designed to improve access to active transportation have been evaluated and their impacts on different population sub-groups are not well-known. It is also accepted that cycling increases the risk of collision with motor vehicles, but that determinants associated with such a  risk have been little explored. 
 
In this perspective, the project aims to better understand the impacts of creating a self-service bicycle sharing system (called BIXI) on the health of the population, more particularly on the practice of active transportation and on the risk of cyclist–motor vehicle collisions.
 
Objectives
 
  1. Evaluate the contribution of the BIXI self-service bicycle sharing system in terms of the accessibility and user-friendliness of active transportation. 
  2. Document the risks of collisions and quasi-collisions between BIXI users and motor vehicles.
 
Methodology
 
There are three components to this project:
 
1. The first part enabled us to build a population-based database from telephone surveys of Montréal island residents conducted by a polling firm. Participants answered questions about their health, lifestyle habits, awareness of the BIXI self-service bicycle sharing system, frequency of use of the system, reasons for using BIXI, usual modes of transportation, perceived impact of BIXI on Montréal's image, practice of physical activity, cycling experiences (collisions and quasi-collisions, use of helmets), and degree of openness to bicycle-friendly public policies. The questions pertained to pre- and post-intervention measures. Data were collected before BIXI was launched (spring 2009), and twice following implementation (fall 2009 and fall 2010). The database includes information on just over 7000 Montrealers, about 4500 of whom had also been interviewed in spring and fall 2009.
 
2. The second component was designed to build a database by collecting information from BIXI users. Data were collected during the 2011 BIXI season. Data collection was carried out at BIXI docking stations where samples had been collected previously. A total of 3037 BIXI users at 72 stations were contacted by interviewers. Of them, 1370 BIXI users accepted to complete a questionnaire on their use of the bicycles (frequency, duration, reasons). They were asked questions about their health (overall health, height, weight), physical activity (walking, cycling, frequency and duration), and cycling experiences (collisions, quasi-collisions, use of helmets), as well as sociodemographic questions. 
 
3. The final component, called GPS (Global Positioning System), consisted in creating a database of bicycle trips made by BIXI users in fall 2011. Participants were recruited while they were participating in the second part of the project. Therefore, they were all BIXI users. The 38 participants followed a brief training session and were given a cell phone fitted with a GPS and an accelerometer. Using the cell phone, participants were asked how they perceived their subjective well-being before and after using the bicycles. They were also asked to go to a secure Website on a daily basis to view their travels and, more specifically, to identify the origin and destination of their trips by documenting each use. Concurrently, participants were questioned on their health, places of activity, and practice of vigorous physical activity, and asked their opinions about the urban planning initiatives of public authorities. 
 
Results
 
Research team members looked at the following issues in particular: 
 
  1. BIXI's contribution to bicycling (modal and intermodal transfer); 
  2. Impact of BIXI on the risks of collisions among road users; 
  3. Degree of the population's adherence to bicycle-friendly public policies.
 
Project results will be disseminated through scientific presentations and articles, and presentations to partners.
 
Funding
 
The project is funded by Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).