Thursday, January 10, 2008

Decaux Getting a Little Sloppy in Paris

Looks like JCDecaux is getting a little sloppy in Paris. As reported by the U.K.'s Times Online, "[Paris mayor] Delanöe is threatening penalties against JCDecaux, the advertising firm that operates [Vélib'] because so many are out of service or in disrepair from overuse and vandalism. Decaux, which has been given a monopoly on advertising space in return for the bicycle system, has been unable so far to ease the problem of saturation in Paris when commuters arrive in the morning. The lack of docking space deters many Parisians from picking up Vélibs for the ride to work."

Maintenance and logistics are large operational issues, especially in the largest of bike-sharing programs. I'm sure JCDecaux can get this back on track soon.


Mike Allen said...

It's too bad that things are falling into disrepair. That's the problem when you give a full monopoly to one company. I still feel like there would be more accountability when there's the possibility for another company come in and take over.

bike lover said...

How many guys do JCD have undertaking the following-
1. bike movements
2. bike maintenance

bike lover said...

Not good news
How many guys do JCD have each day undertaking maintenance.
How many guys do they have moving the bikes.

Also I am confused about the charging. They say its free but when I used the scheme in Lyon I had 7E deducted from my account- how does their charging work?

Paul DeMaio said...

I'm not sure of the exact number of logistics and maintenance crew, but from a jobs posting I saw last year before the launch of Velib', I want to say it's around 400 people.

Your 7 EUR charge was likely a week membership, not a charge for time.

Anonymous said...

Hi Paul

Couple of colleagues have reported back after visits to Paris. Popular hire points have people hovering around often trying to spot a space to return their bike, and flow problems appear to persist.

Some report still seeing the original Paris scheme which was/is run in conjunction with the Paris Public Transport operation - RATP -and has been operating as Roue Libre for around 10 years. In its own way it was a leading scheme for a city with about 2000 bikes and hire points at rail stations, and popular parks at weekends. They had a solution to the 'Montmartre effect' by hiring bikes at the top and then moving the hire centre to the bottom of the hill to take the bikes back. Roue Libre had their own city bike design and in addition to hire also ran cycle parking centres. I'd be interested to know if anyone has used them/seen them in use, since the arrival of Decaux.

Checking out some real measures of use the Paris scheme with 140,000 subscribers and 20,000 bikes equates to 7 users per bike, which seems pretty poor against Barcelona with 90,000 (set to rise to 110,000) and 6000 bikes (15:1 to 18:1) and surprisingly OYBike's dedicated scheme at Green Park in Reading is getting close to the Paris level of subscriber-bike ratio, but is a much more compact scheme with substantially fewer bikes (under 20).

The other factor is bikes per sq Km and this is a bit more difficult to pin down - the Paris figures suggest a density of about half that in Copenhagen - where the bikes operator only in the city centre, and the flexibility of installing a hire point means that the Paris problem does not occur.

Decaux note bikes now in Luxembourg, where they presumably replace a long running hire system, and a number are going for a real challenge - the convenience of the city bike in a land where helmet wearing is do you hire a bike and a helmet ... and make sure that the helmet is not damaged or infected by previous users.

Paul DeMaio said...

Regarding the helmet comment, nextbike is experiencing the same helmet requirement in New Zealand. To solve this problem, helmets will be provided with the bikes and customers must lock the helmet up with the lock after each use.

Keeping the helmets clean is another issue. I would hope maintenance staff cleans and replaces the helmets often.

Anonymous said...

Do any of these systems have a feature where, for ex., you could text message the destination terminal and inquire if open spot(s) exist for the bike you are currently riding?

Alternatively, some European cities have public access internet terminals scattered about; if a way could be found to provide the bike share user free internet access (surely Decaux can figure this out), simply to verify online whether a parking spot exists, on the fly, so to speak, this might mean fewer employees necessary to shuttle the overload from full to open spots.


Paul DeMaio said...

JCDecaux has its "Cyclodispo" which is an on-street information panel with variable messages. I saw this mentioned in a presentation of theirs, however, I haven't been able to find images of it on-line.

bike lover said...

If you have an accident in PAris who is the insurer underwriting thescheme?

bike lover said...

Hi. Im off to Paris on the 14th March, cant wait. Do I need my own insurance? If not who underwrites the JCD scheme?

Paul DeMaio said...

Paris's program is use-at-your-own-risk. I don't believe there is an insurer for the program.

Anonymous said...

My wife Alice and I (average age 65) were in Paris last month and picked up Velibs at rue Bachaumont between Montorgeuil and Montmartre in the 2nd arrondissement. We had a choice of about a dozen bikes and then rode down Blvd. Sebastopol to the Seine. We followed the north (right) bank down to a confluence of roads where the bike bath ends, then crossed over and had a lovely long ride to the other end of the Seine at Quai Branly where we let our bikes go to visit the museum and then have a late lunch at the local Brasserie. The first half- hour is free and then you pay by the day or week. It helped us that we had a French hostess with us who figured out the instructions both on the machine that issues the ticket and the mechanism that releases the bikes. They Velibs require a credit card that is charged 150 euros if the bike is not properly returned. We saw one J D Decaux worker the entire three hours but literally hundreds of Velibs, stationary or in use. There were numerous small sanitation trucks picking up any refuse in the street so all the bicycle lanes are clear of glass etc. They are also extremely well marked both on the streets and on eye-level signposts and traffic lights. We noticed just one glass bottle left by the side of the street and it was seized by a sanitation worker within five minutes. The bike repairs seem to be reasonably up to date because only a few bikes out of the thousand or so we saw had their seats turned round, the indication that Decaux needs to get to work fixing a bike. The Velibs are solid and comfortable and easy to ride.