Having just returned from Europe, I had the opportunity to meet with the administrators of various bike-sharing programs, including the Velib' program in Paris. The excitement of the soon-to-launch program was palpable. With a plan to have a fleet of 20,600 bikes on the street by the end of the year, it will surely have a positive effect on increasing bike mode share in this city of few cyclists, reducing traffic congestion, and improving the health of Parisiens.
Velib' is expected to launch on July 15 and the staff are busily installing stations around the city. As of two weeks ago there were 20 stations with two bikes each set up around the city with "spokes"people to explain the system to passersby. With 20,600 additional bikes on the streets of Paris, it will surely increase the bike mode share of the city as bike-sharing has in Lyon with Velo'v (400-500% increase in two years) and in Barcelona with Bicing (100% in three months). These numbers are from the accounts of the administrators of these programs.
photo credit: Paul DeMaio. Photo may be used with author permission.
Am just back from Paris as of May 1. Velib program worked well in general - plenty of bikes and bike lanes - but a few bikes showed signs of wear (e.g., no basket) and two rental terminals dispensed no cards containing the account number - hence I had to use my credit card all over again each time I switched bikes. There is a "help" tel.number to call but be prepared to hear it in French. Take a print-out of the bike locations with you, or print it when you get there, since on a hol. or sunny weekend day, all bikes were in use at some popular locations. You might want to take a bike lock also if you want to stop somewhere without surrendering the bike.
Just beware when renting Velib bikes that you may not ever get your deposit back (150 euro per bike). My girlfriend paid for 2 bikes (300 euro) by debit card almost 4 months ago and never got her deposit back. I have been ringing and faxing the company but still they have not returned this money.
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