As a humble public service, the GUARDIAN has explored the Paris low rent bicycle plan which has been in operation less than a month. We offer this account so the rest of you can make suggestions for a workable plan. Pictures show the bike ranks with electronic locks, a biker, and the credit card self service screen.
The “Velib” scheme in Paris has 10,000 bicycles at 750 hire points every 300 meters (about a quarter mile) around Paris, with plans for 20,000 bikes at 1400 hire points by the year end.
The bikes are available for hire at any time of the day or night after lodging a $240 deposit with your credit card at an automated vending station or “rank.”
Parisians appear to be enjoying their new found pedal power. In the first three weeks of the world’s biggest bike rental scheme, the 48lb machines were borrowed 1.2 million times. Each is being used six times a day on average, usually for the short trips that are encouraged by the pricing scheme.
The first half hour is free, with prices rising to about $1.50 for every extra half hour. When the bike is returned, your credit card is rebated the deposit. Returns can be made at any of the official stands–not just the originating site. We are not certain about the actual rates, but they are low and aimed at getting people out of cars.
London is looking at copying the French scheme and there will no doubt be a bunch of Small Town USA mayors taking “fact finding trips” to Paris. The GUARDIAN has done the trip for Boise politicos for free and the rest of the work can be done via internet.
Boise could never generate 1.2 million rentals in three years–let alone three weeks! It certainly has merit in the downtown area. A “yellow bike” plan for free bikes fell flat when the bikes were all stolen or vandalized.
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