Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Mystery of the 3iCycle

One night, months ago now, I was in the Market and spotted a large glass storefront-style window that opened on a mostly empty shop floor with several of these yellow bike cabs parked in it. I couldn't tell through the window what the logo on them was, or if I could, "3i" meant so little to me that the information slipped right out of my head. I thought I'd look it up later, and figure out what they were about, since I'd never actually seen one in use.

That was quite a while back, and I didn't see the cabs, or think about them again, until I was on my way to work a few mornings ago and found myself behind this one, near Overbrook:

So I took a picture. It turned off the path shortly afterward. And I was still curious - I've only seen one of these so far, but there was a fleet in that strange shop space in the Market, so what's the deal? (I know that Toronto has bike cabs that are paid for by the city, so you can just hop in one, go wherever you want, and hop back out. I think it's brilliant. But as I'd never seen these yellow creatures beetling around Ottawa, I wasn't sure if that's what they were, back when I first saw them. In fact, I wasn't sure if they actually worked or were some kind of mockup.)

And since here I am now with a picture featuring the URL staring me in the face, I looked up the 3i Summit. Turns out it's run by Leadership Ottawa, which I've come across before. And after a little digging, I came across an article from last November about them - with the perhaps overly optimistic title "Green Transportation Comes to Ottawa." They're 3iCycles, and they are, I guess, something along the lines of Toronto's bike cabs. And they apparently hit the streets in spring of 2010, although this is the first one I've actually seen in action. Maybe I just haven't been downtown so much? Or maybe they're not catching on? Has anyone else seen one? What's the deal? Maybe this one is being driven around now because the summit is coming up on November 27th and so it's really more of a moving billboard than an actual working cab?

Maybe I'm being too cynical about them. Here. Have a picture of one with a baby in it.


  1. I think I might have seen one of them actually on the move.

    What I haven't seen is any kind of advertising (or public-awareness campaigns?) as to what they are, how they're available, who can use them, etc.

    If they're supposed to be like the TO greencabs, I think handing out a bucket of information to the public would have been the way to go.
    And, okay, yes: I get most of my news from Apartment 613, BUT you'd think they'd have been all over something like this.

    So, yeah. Not much help. I would also like to know what they're for.

    - TTFN,
    - Amazon.

  2. They were brought into town for last year's summit. There might be some chatter about them on the HPVOoO e-mail lists at the time. I know they rode with us in last year's Santa Claus Parade.

    - RG>

  3. I've only seen them out of that storefront a couple times.

  4. Amazon - Bingo. Right on. There ought to be SOME sort of information out there on how to use them, if they are in fact meant to be used. (Bixi got better press than these things and even Bixi sort of got shafted for visibility by the city as far as I can see.) Knowing that Apt613 doesn't know anything about them makes me feel better too (so it's NOT just that I've been under some sort of rock.)

    But then I've wondered about Leadership Ottawa anyway, since they seem to have lots of money but I never seem to see anything they've actually *done.* They don't have much on-the-ground presence. This looks, on the surface, like that: like someone had the money to invest in getting these nifty bikes made, but didn't really think about getting the word out, or know how.