NPR carried a blurb this morning on Paris' heralded Velib' bike rental program and by most accounts it is an overwhelming success. Each of the thousands of bikes are ridden by 10-12 riders a day and clock 10-12,000 km a year - they can be picked up and returned to about 1,000 different stations. And the fallout has seen individuals buying and riding their own bikes as well.
Now the bad part - 16,000 bikes have been vandalized and another 8,000 simply stolen - 100 have been fished out of the Seine - replaced bikes cost $500 each - and the City of Paris is picking up the tab - in the beginning it was said no tax money would be paid into the plan as JCDecaux publicity firm was paying for it all in return for putting ads on the bike stations and, no sure, bikes themselves.
But the program is still by most accounts a great success - even though American tourists reportedly have a hard time getting their chip-less credit cards to work in disengaging the bikes. but riders are advised to make sure the bike's tires are not flat, chains not broken, etc. before taking the bike.
And Lyon, which launched a Velib-type program before Paris reports very few problems with thefts, vandalism, etc.
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