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BIXI bicycles in Toronto.

Toronto cycling fans received a boost today with the launch of a new bike sharing program.

Users of Bixi Toronto will have year-round access to 1,000 bicycles they can rent for trips of 30 minutes or less at 80 stations in the city's downtown.

So far there are about 300 bicycles at 50 stations and Bixi officials say it will take about two weeks to roll out all the bikes.

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City councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong was among those to put on a helmet and test out the pedal power of the two-wheelers at today's rain-soaked launch.

Minnan-Wong says the Bixi program is good for Toronto because it promotes cycling, is environmentally responsible, relieves congestion on roads, is healthy and affordable.

Riders can sign up for a $95 a year or $40 a month. Twenty-four-hour passes for $5 and 72-hour pass for $12 are also available.

Montreal launched a Bixi program in the spring of 2009.

Herb van den Dool, a volunteer with the Toronto Cyclists Union, says the program will be great for tourists who want to see the sights.

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