I'm very happy to see new Sobi hubs east of Sherman, especially east of Gage. The hub I'm most pleased to see (which is planned to open next week) is at the Eva Rothwell Centre on Wentworth Street North in the Keith neighbourhood.

These hubs are much needed to make Bike Share available to residents of Crown Point West and Keith.

Equally important is the Everyone Rides Initiative which provides subsidized and free Sobi memberships in these neighbourhoods.

It's not the cost of a bicycle which is the biggest barrier to biking for low-income individuals, it is the risk of theft. This is the greatest advantage to Sobi, the lack of worry. There's also the flexibility of being able to take the bike one way, and then return using another method of transportation.

New White Bikes

As part of the launch today, Sobi added 75 new bicycles to the system. They are painted white, and feature 8-speeds.

The addition of 75 bicycles is much needed for the system, which is enjoying a great deal of popularity - combined with breakdowns, there are times when the bike fleet is too thin to cover the entire service area effectively.

Sobi's HQ is in the basement of the building where I have my office; the number of bikes there repair each day numbers in the dozens, but so do the number of bikes brought in for repair on some days. It's unbelievable some of the condition bikes arrive for repair in. (A nice perk of being in the same building, bikes in the rack out front are often fresh out of the shop and well tuned.)

In terms of my impressions of the new white 8-speed bikes, I'll be sticking to the blue 3-speeds.

The first four gears on white bikes are basically the same as the first gear, the white fifth and sixth are similar to the blue second gear. The comfortable decent pace of the blue second gear is nearly replicated in the white sixth gear.

As for the seventh and eighth gear, they do not provide more speed than the current third gear, and require more physical effort than the blue third gear.

Today, I took a new bike from Ottawa and Dunsmire to Barton and Sanford, then the Central Library downtown to Cannon and Sherman.

It had been my plan to ride from Central Library to Ottawa Street, but decided to switch to a blue bike at Sherman before continuing my trip.

I switched again at Cannon and Belview, for my final leg, I wanted to see how a white bike felt on side streets. In the stop and go of all-way stops, riding the white bike in fifth gear was definitely better than the blue in second.

One other difference of note, the front basket on the white bikes is slightly smaller, but comes without the large gaps. With smaller holes for drainage, you can now transport smaller items with the bike.