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Tuesday, May 12, 2009
MONTREAL BIXI BIKE , THE NOBLE SCAM
Back in April 2008 while riding at Critical Mass, two friends decided to go ahead and try to motivate more people to get on their bikes in Montreal. Melanie Gomez and Peneloppe Riopelle got some help from their friend Jean-Michel Simoneau, a webmaster of sorts, to slap together a blog and promote cycling. They called it "À Vélos Citoyens" (To your Bikes Citizens).
They started to post, linked the blog to their Facebook page and even created a group with over 1400 members. Then one day they came up with a scoop on the blog, a spy photo of the upcoming City sponsored self serve bicycle program bike, now known as the "Bixi". A lot of people couldn't wait for this program to get off the ground and there was a lot of buzz around it.
Now here's the kicker, turns out these three people don't exist. An article published by cyberpress exposed the whole thing as a scam. The PR company, who is really behind all this, doesn't think so, they say it was a viral campaign. All of a sudden, the three "crusaders" don't have an account on Facebook anymore and the blog is now labelled as the official Bixi blog. I learned today that this is called "astroturfing" where someone emulates a grassroots movement to sell their stuff.
It's really too bad, the Bixi is a noble cause and I don't feel that this fact alone permits someone to scam people into wanting the product. Right now I feel violated as much as I find the scam absolutely brilliant. I guess you learn something new everyday.
The Bixi program officially started in Montreal on May 12 2009 in the downtown core.
Until next time, ride safe and Godspeed.
Gerry :) (I actually am a real blogger)