Parisians show their va va voom as city rolls out 'freedom' bike scheme

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by Tim Campbell, Aug 9, 2007.

  1. Tim Campbell

    Tim Campbell Guest

    Charles Bremner in Paris -


    Taxi drivers and other critics said that it would never work, but
    three
    weeks after Paris was sprinkled with 10,000 self-service bicycles, the
    scheme is proving a triumph and a new pedalling army appears to be
    taming
    the city’s famously fierce traffic.

    Bertrand Delanoë, the city’s mayor, and his green-minded
    administration
    are jubilant at the gusto with which Parisians and visitors have taken
    to
    the heavy grey cycles that have been available at 750 ranks since July
    15.

    Nowhere is the project being watched with greater interest than in
    London
    as the city prepares for London Freewheel day next month, when miles
    of
    roads will be car-free for the day. After witnessing first-hand the
    ease
    with which Parisians have taken to pedalling, Ken Livingstone, the
    Mayor,
    has asked Transport for London to develop a similar plan for London
    and
    bring together several smaller schemes across the city.

    In Paris there have been few teething troubles with the high-tech
    system
    that supplies the bikes for up to €1 per half-hour — but one is a
    result
    of residents using them to glide downhill to work and then taking
    public
    transport home, resulting in gluts of bikes at some low-level stands
    and
    shortages at higher altitude stations, such as Montmartre.
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    Subscribers must pay €29 (£20) a year, give their credit card details
    and
    leave a €150 credit card deposit to join the Vélib scheme. This buys
    half
    an hour’s pedalling a day and a card to lock and unlock bicycles from
    automated stations spaced every 300 metres in the city’s centre.

    Visitors to Paris can buy weekly or daily Vélib cards for €5 or €1.
    The
    giant fleet of Vélibs (short for free or freedom-bikes in French) is
    already showing signs of transforming a city which, despite increasing
    cycle lanes, had never been pedal-friendly. The real test will come
    with
    the end of summer and the return of bad weather and grumpy Parisians
    from
    holiday.

    A number of free-bike schemes have been road-tested relatively
    successfully in London. OYbikes, co-founded by a former cabbie, Bernie
    Hanning, three years ago, lets cyclists hire a bike free for 30
    minutes,
    after paying an initial £10 registration fee. Cyclists can phone the
    OYBike call centre to get the code to unlock the bike at locations
    including Hammersmith, Fulham and West Kensington. Another scheme in
    Tower
    Hamlets encourages employers with tax benefits to provide pooled bikes
    for
    staff.

    Dave Holladay, a veteran cycling enthusiast who advises the CTC, the
    national cycling organisation, welcomed the move to introduce a
    large-scale bike scheme in London. “It takes no more than 15 minutes
    to
    get to any Central London terminus by bike, so there could be huge
    benefits for the city. I think TFL should look at what’s available as
    there is already a lot going on. In the case of OYbikes, it only takes
    ten
    minutes to erect one of their hiring points, so a project like that
    can be
    expanded very easily.”

    However, he added that one of the main reasons that similar schemes
    had
    failed in England, for example in Southampton and Bristol, is because
    of a
    lack of co-operation from the rail networks, who have objected to
    providing parking space near stations.

    Parisians, meanwhile, appear to be enjoying their new found pedal
    power.
    In the first three weeks of the world’s biggest bike rental scheme,
    the
    22kg (48lb) machines were borrowed 1.2 million times. Each is being
    used
    six times a day on average, usually for the short trips that are
    encouraged by the pricing scheme.

    New patterns are forming, with arriving commuters stripping the stands
    at
    railway stations. To ensure a morning ride, some have taken —
    illegally —
    to securing bikes at night with their own locks. J. C. Decaux, the
    company
    that provides and services the bikes at no charge in return for rights
    to
    the city’s advertising space, is also seeking ways to counter theft
    and
    damage after 50 were torn from their moorings and 180 vandalised in
    the
    first weeks of the scheme.

    The successes . . . and failures

    Copenhagen Prototype scheme, with advertising sponsorship – bicycles
    have
    tyres that do not puncture
    Lyon 1,500 bicycles available for 15,000 users. Costs 30p for 30
    minutes
    Germany Some glitches with GPS system
    St Andrews Bikes were stolen in the Scottish university town in an
    early
    pilot scheme
    Cambridge When a pilot scheme started in the 1960s, the fleet slowly
    vanished. When it was resurrected in 1993, all 300 bicycles were
    stolen on
    the first day

    Pedal power

    15 extra free minutes are granted if a rider’s destination station is
    already full of bikes

    48% increase in bicycle use in Paris since 2001

    27 milesof these were built in 2006

    14 minimum age to join the scheme

    1,451 collection points by the end of the year

    230 miles of cycle paths in the city

    Source: www.velib.paris. fr
    http://www.timesonl ine.co.uk/ tol/news/ world/europe/ article2224917.
    ece
     
    Tags:


  2. Art Harris

    Art Harris Guest

    Tim Campbell wrote:
    > Taxi drivers and other critics said that it would never work, but three
    > weeks after Paris was sprinkled with 10,000 self-service bicycles, the
    > scheme is proving a triumph and a new pedalling army appears to be
    > taming the city's famously fierce traffic.
    >


    Very inspiring. Is there a plan for maintaining the bikes (e.g.,
    pumping tires, making minor repairs, etc.)?

    Art Harris
     
  3. On Aug 9, 5:42 pm, Art Harris <n...@hotmail.com> wrote:

    > Very inspiring. Is there a plan for maintaining the bikes (e.g.,
    > pumping tires, making minor repairs, etc.)?


    Yup. There are roving patrols of maintenance guys. They ride bikes.
     
  4. On Aug 9, 6:00 pm, rechungREMOVET...@gmail.com wrote:
    > On Aug 9, 5:42 pm, Art Harris <n...@hotmail.com> wrote:
    >
    > > Very inspiring. Is there a plan for maintaining the bikes (e.g.,
    > > pumping tires, making minor repairs, etc.)?

    >
    > Yup. There are roving patrols of maintenance guys. They ride bikes.


    BTW, the bikes are pretty sturdily designed. No exposed cables, chain
    and skirt guards, etc. The bikes are pretty noticeable from far away
    -- they're about the only bikes around that have front and rear lights
    on at all times.
     
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