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Paris Buys Citizens Bikes
Erica Barnett, 18 Jul 07
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Paris, France has adopted an innovative, yet wonderfully simple, approach to reducing congestion and greenhouse-gas emissions in city limits. It's buying its citizens bikes.

22,000 of them.

The program, paid for by an outdoor advertiser in exchange for the exclusive use of 1,628 urban billboards, allows people to rent the large gray bicycles at a rate 1 euro ($1.38) a day; a week pass costs 5 euros ($6.90) and a yearly subscription, 29 euros ($40). The fee gets you a maximum of 30 minutes' bike use at a time; ride for longer in one trip, and there's a small incremental fee. The time limit is intended to keep the bikes in circulation; however, you can use the program as many times as you like within the period for which you've bought a pass.

The program is part of an effort by Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoë, who is aiming to reduce car traffic in the city by 40 percent by 2020. The number of bikes in Paris has increased by 50 percent in the last six years; thanks to the principle of critical mass (the more bikers there are, the safer they are), the number of accidents has stayed roughly the same.

Yellow-bike and similar programs have met with mixed success in the US. Perhaps what the Paris experiment demonstrates is that it takes a massive show of will (and prioritization of dollars) to create the critical mass we need to revolutionize our transportation system.

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Paris has bought its citizens bikes. 22,000 of them. ... it takes a massive show of will (and prioritization of dollars) to create the critical mass we need to revolutionize our transportation system.

I agree with these comments. Alternatively, citizens could be supplied with the Buscycle :is a human-powered multiple person moving machine. The HumanCar looks loads more fun though: very funny, but great too.

Posted by: Rob on 18 Jul 07

Actually, Paris did not buy these bicycles. It launched a call for tender last year, the winner being the J.C. Decaux company (a leader in urban furniture). The latest is in charge of running these cycling stations in exchange of huge advantages as regards advertissement panels around the capital. That is how the deal works.

In fact, the scheme has been put in place after the successful experiment led in Lyon (mid-south of France), which started in 2005 (called velo'v). Similar infrastructures have also been tested much earlier in other French cities, La Rochelle (western france) being a pioneer, while lending some 350 bicycles for ca 30 years...

By the way... I love your blog. Great work and info! Thanks.

Posted by: Angélie on 19 Jul 07

Or people can stop relying on the government to solve their problems and just go buy bikes (most people have them already).

Global warming has nothing to do with governments, it has to do with people's attitudes. The only thing that we should ALLOW government to do is regulate businesses to make sure they aren't pumping out bad things.

I think a more proper group to appeal to would be media.. they have culture in a headlock.. but they are getting their money from the auto industry.. so good luck. Bottom line, stop driving whenever possible (yes, even in the rain and snow) and encourage car free activities with your friends. I think the appeal of government is that we can feel something is being done without having to take 'radical' action. RADICAL is becoming the new word for doing what you believe in and not caving. Uh oh, my pulpit just broke.. laters everybody ;)

Posted by: Brandon on 23 Jul 07

I just came back from Paris and I was there during the introduction. As far as I can tell the system is taking off very well.

The system is great for tourists, since you can plug in your credit card anywhere and you're biking 5 minutes later. There are a LOT of rental stations throughout the city. At one point all the rental stations near the centre were even already full, which means that a lot of people were using them.

It was also great to see how the rental stations brought people closer together since everybody would help eachother out when they were having problems with the system. It was also great to see so many locals using the bike.

We bought 10 metro tickets for a week, which you would normally use, but ended up biking pretty much everywhere.

All in all I truly love the initiative and wish they would do the same all over the world. It truly changes the way you look at the city and transportation in general.

Posted by: Michiel Trimpe on 24 Jul 07



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