Monday, November 23, 2009

Spinning Wheels of the Gray Are Now Spinning Gold for JCDecaux

According to a City of Paris press release, on Monday the City Council of Paris approved a new contract with JCDecaux for the Vélib’ bike-sharing system. The last year and a half have seen stressful negotiations between JCDecaux, the giant street furniture advertising company, and the City of Paris—the joint operators of the wildly successful bike-sharing program. The new contract gives a larger financial return to JCDecaux.

Since the program began, there have been more than 61 million bike rentals. In the original contract, 12% of the subscription and rental income went to JCDecaux, while Paris reaped hefty benefits. Now when the rental income goes beyond 14 million, JCDecaux gets 35% of the amount above that level. When the rental income reaches €17 million, they receive 50% of the income above that level. This new financial incentive will give JCDecaux more reasons to maintain the bikes, give better service, and increase the number of customers. They also must decrease the customer service response time to no more than two minutes by phone, plus share location status and maintenance statistics with Paris in real time. In addition, if more than 4% of the bikes suffer irreparable damage, Paris will pay a replacement cost of €400 each up to a maximum of 25% of the fleet. In return, JCDecaux must give detailed reports on the damage to bikes.

It is hoped that this will give a realistic picture of the shrinkage and maintenance problems of the fleet. Now that Vélib’ has expanded to the first outer ring of the Parisian suburbs, the City and JCDecaux are looking at this new contract to help the system become even more prosperous.

image credit: Streetsblog

Russell Meddin

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

First Japanese Bike-sharing is JCDecaux Cyclocity

Japan's first big bike-sharing system is to be a JCDecaux Cyclocity system like the Vélib' in Paris. Toyama, Japan just signed an agreement for a small 150 bike and 15 station system according to BusinessWire. The system is to start March 2010. This will be JCDecaux's second bike-sharing system outside of Europe, the other is Brisbane, Australia. We all have been waiting for Japan to start pedaling with the rest of the bike-sharing world.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Melbourne + Bixi = Melbixi?

A partnership of the Royal Automotive Club of Victoria (RACV) and Alta Bicycle Share was named the winner of a Victoria, Australia contract to provide bike-sharing service in central Melbourne with Montreal’s Bixi system. The program will offer 600 bikes at 50 stations, which will be spaced every 500m. The contract is valued at $4.7M USD ($5M AUD) and is planned to launch in mid-2010.

“[For one] hundred years we were advocating for the rights of cars; now we are advocating for the rights of bike riders,” said RACV’s General Manager for Membership and Motoring Services, Gordon Oakley, as quoted on the Bicycle Victoria website.

Australian bike-sharers, don't forget your helmet! The law requires cyclists to wear a helmet which can be problematic for bike-sharing as discussed earlier on The Bike-sharing Blog. ''Initially we'll be encouraging people to bring their own helmets with them,” said Roads Minister Tim Pallas as quoted in The Age. Rental options are also being considered. Just make mine Swine Flu-free please. Here's Mike Rubbo's take on Australia's helmet law in regards to bike-sharing.

Kudos to Melbourne for taking this step and to RACV for shifting from a car club to a mobility club. Other car clubs (especially the American Automobile Association) should take note.

Thanks to Shaun from Monash U. for the links.

image credit: Bicycle Victoria

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Post Number 200

After 199 blog posts on bike-sharing, we here at The Bike-sharing Blog want to say a big *THANKS!* as we reach Post Number 200. The Bike-sharing Blog started in May 2007 with just a few readers each day. Since then about 100,000 unique visitors have come to The Blog for news and nearly 200,000 visitors rely on The Bike-sharing World Map to keep up-to-date. So much has happened during these first 200 posts - it's truly amazing to reread old posts and see how much has changed around the bike-sharing world since they were written.

Whether this is your first time ever visiting The Bike-sharing Blog or your first time just this week, thank you for coming, reading, and contributing your comments and knowledge to make The Bike-sharing Blog the go-to source for international news on bike-sharing.

Russell Meddin and I look forward to sharing with you all of the exciting news which has yet to be written over the next 200 posts.


Paul DeMaio
MetroBike, LLC
Washington, DC

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Bike-sharing Meet Reality, Reality Meet Bike-sharing

An article in The New York Times, titled "French Ideal of Bicycle-sharing Meets Reality" discusses the problem Paris has been having with vandalism and theft of bike-sharing bikes with 80% of the initial bikes having been replaced. Data has been hard to come by, however, Velib' is an outlier in terms of theft and vandalism in a bike-sharing programs due to social unrest in the Parisian suburbs. Until recently, the suburbs have generally been a place in America, where those who can afford to leave the ills of the city, have fled. In Paris, however, the suburbs are a place for those who cannot afford to live in the luxury of the city.

There's technology and
demography. I'm not aware of problems with JCDecaux's technology working poorly in other cities that use their system, so demography is the key issue. There's a great deal of social unrest in Paris' suburbs as sociologist Bruno Marzloff stated in The New York Times article. A European Working Conditions Observatory report highlights just how bad things are in France's suburbs with "the unemployment rate... between 35% and 54% for men, between 40% and 60% for women, and between 30% and 50% for young people."

Instead of ad campaigns telling people to respect the bikes, JCDecaux and the City of Paris should be using the bikes to respect the people,
if they aren't already. The very same individuals who are damaging the bikes should be employed by JCDecaux to repair them. Until the super high unemployment rates decrease, the social unrest will continue and bike-sharing as a representative of the City will be a pawn in their battles.

Outside of the social unrest factor, bike-sharing is a good value for its expense. If you calculate the cost per trip of moving a person by bike-sharing, foot, transit, and car, I'd put my money on bike-sharing being the most cost efficient at moving a person per mile. The cost of building a mile of track or asphalt for the other vehicles is expensive, compared to that of what a bike needs.

In this calcuation you would need to include the public health benefits in terms of decreased medical expenses due to increased activity, lowered emissions, and increased productivity as folks can spend their time where they want to be, rather than stuck in traffic. Cities spend hundreds of millions working on these issues and bike-sharing leverages benefits associated with each.

You would also need to include in this calculation how much positive publicity Paris has garnered from around the world for their bold bike-sharing innovation. It seems as if everybody has heard about "those bikes in Paris" even if they don't know what Velib' or bike-sharing is. The value of this publicity alone has got to be in the tens or hundreds of millions of dollars. France continues to remain at the top of the list of countries with international tourist arrivals, according to the World Tourism Organization, and it's likely that many of these visitors are visiting Paris and are one of the up to 145,000 trips per day that are made on Velib'.

So I'd say that even with a high vandalism and theft rate that bike-sharing is too important to Paris for it to shutter its program. Bike-sharing isn't the problem, it's part of the solution, if we let it be.

image credit: Guardian