They are grey, ugly, and heavy, but there is nothing like like a ride down an empty Paris street in August to invigorate the soul and make you feel like you’re in another age or time. Yesterday, the Times had an update on the phenomenon called “VELIB.”
A year after the introduction of the sturdy gray bicycles known as Vélib’s, they are being used all over Paris. The bikes are cheap to rent because they are subsidized by advertising, and other major cities, including American ones, are exploring similar projects.
About 20,600 Vélib’ bicycles are in service here, with more than 1,450 self-service rental stations. The stations are only some 300 yards apart, and there are four times as many as there are subway stations, even in a city so well served by its metro system.
Other key facts from the article:
3000 bikes have been stolen (some found in Romania or in shipping cartons headed for Morocco). Why someone would steal one of these is beyond me.
Cost of the bikes, which are made in Hungary, is $3460
3 People have died in Velib accidents, a 7% increase over a year ago, but bike ridership is up 24% . The French are asking the government to provide free helmets to citizens to help out on this problem. Gotta love that.
Unfortunately, there is still no way for most Americans to use the bikes. The rental terminals only accept credit cards with chips. These credit cards are common in Europe but almost unknown in the United States.