Saturday, May 9, 2009

Pioneering Bike-sharing Program Goes Dark After 11 Years

On Sunday May 10, 2009 the world’s first public automated information based bike-sharing program shut down. Vélo à la Carte started in 1998 by Clear Channel Adshel in Rennes, France ended its 11 years of almost free service in this capital city of Brittany. Vélo à la Carte is credited with starting the 21st Century bike-share revolution now spot lighted on the world stage with Vélib in Paris. A bicycle revolution that is now spreading to cities all over the world. 

With only 200 bicycles over 25 stations in a city with 200,000 inhabitants, Vélo à la Carte has seen almost 1 million usages with 11,000 yearly subscribers. It was the first system deployed for the general public in a metropolitan area utilizing a RFID (radio frequncy identification) card to access the bikes.

Over the years, three different bicycle designs were used in the system. A 23 deposit gave users access to 2 hours of no charge bike-sharing. It is a sad passing in the vélos en libre service world.   Vélo à la Carte

Do not shed a tear for the Rennais. Although, they will no longer have Vélo à la Carte, they will have a complete menu of 900 new le vélo star bikes in 40 stations starting June 6, 2009. In the near future, it will serve a larger area plus the suburbs with 1285 bikes and 117 stations . Le vélo star system keeps Rennes as an innovator in bike-sharing. The regional transit card, Kerrigo, will also access the bikes.

le vélo star

A spokesperson for Clear Channel said that Vélo à la Carte was part of a street furniture (bus shelters) program in Rennes. The contract exspired recently. Rennes tendered the new street furniture and bike-sharing as two sepearate contracts. Clear Channel won the street furniture tender maintaining its advertising presence in the City. Keolis won the bike tender and will start operating the scheme in June. Kéolis’s contract will have no link to advertising.

Photos: Rennes Métropoles, Vélo à la Carte, Ouest-France  and Kéolis

Russell Meddin

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