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Paris" Velib' A Year Later - Huge Success but...

Paris" Velib' A Year Later - Huge Success but...

Aug 3rd, 2009, 09:22 AM
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Paris" Velib' A Year Later - Huge Success but...


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.
Palenque is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2009, 09:23 AM
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Division of Labour: Economics Archives
“I've seen bikes with just the frame left, but docked at a Vélib' ... Police have retrieved about 100 of the purloined bicycles from the depths of Paris canals and the Seine River. ...... From an NPR story on the CEO of a small bank that is returning TARP ...... famous professor Stanley Fish who was then at Duke.) ...
Palenque is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2009, 09:49 AM
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This is an old story, isn't it? Simple answer: make the deposit the full replacement cost.
PatrickLondon is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2009, 09:55 AM
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Well Patrick that assumes the bikes are not stolen or vandalized when parked in the pick up/drop off stations, don't it. but yes a big deposit on the charge card used to get the bike may also make the program less popular.
Palenque is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2009, 10:04 AM
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Vandalising a parked bike is possible (though I'll never understand the malice involved), but stealing one from its locking station just doesn't strike me as feasible - it would take hours of effort and some heavy equipment.
PatrickLondon is offline  
Aug 24th, 2009, 06:55 AM
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Does anyone have an update on success (or lack thereof) in using a USA credit card (AmEx has been mentioned as a possibility) to rent a Velib?
d_claude_bear is offline  
Aug 24th, 2009, 07:04 AM
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I read that they are going to try a similar system with electric cars!
melissa19 is offline  
Oct 30th, 2009, 04:29 PM
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The NY Times story today, 10/30, says the bikes cost $3500 each. Quite a deposit. Eighty percent have been vandalized or stolen.
RJD is offline  
Oct 30th, 2009, 06:46 PM
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It is hard to imagine that the people who vandalize the bikes are the same ones who use the bikes to go to work, or wherever. Sign up for the program, pay the deposit, check out a bike, and then tear it up? I just figured the vandals were no-good-for-nothing lay-abouts who somehow get one loose and then mess it up.
In any event, what a shame.
cynthia_booker is offline  
Oct 30th, 2009, 10:01 PM
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The bikes do not cost $3500. If you add up every expense of the system and divide it by the number of bikes, then you might come up with a figure like that.

The 80% figure is also ridiculous.
kerouac is offline  
Oct 31st, 2009, 03:10 AM
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Yes, the NYT story even goes so far as to say that it is difficult to find a working bike. What a bunch of misinformation. I use the Vélib system 4 to 5 times a day, so I think that I would know if that was true or not. NOT.
kerouac is offline  
Oct 31st, 2009, 08:07 AM
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If it's so hard to find a working bike why do you see so many bikes being ridden and so few in the racks? If the NYT story was correct shouldn't the racks be full and Kerouac be on foot rather than cycling?
ParisAmsterdam is offline  
Oct 31st, 2009, 01:04 PM
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At most racks we passed by last month, you'd see one or two bikes with bent rims, flat tires, sometimes missing parts -- but there are crews working every day to pick these up for repair, and moving bikes back and forth to keep some available everywhere (as much as possible, anyway).

While a few people have abused the system, and some others have torn equipment up because they get some kind of satisfaction out of that (they're probably the same folks that dump stinky trash into the recycling bins), the vast majority of the bikes you see are either in use or ready to go.

It's an expensive system, no doubt -- that's why it's financed privately by advertising. Which seems to work quite well, and is NOT obtrusive (and NOT on the bikes themselves, thankfully).
imaginaryjazz is offline  
Nov 9th, 2009, 06:57 PM
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We were looking forward to using the velib system while in Paris for a month in the summer - how can we pay (Americans) if our credit cards don't have the required chip?
Any alternatives or suggestions? Thanks
flounder is offline  
Nov 9th, 2009, 07:28 PM
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My American Express card (gold) worked just fine, but I've read/heard that all American Express cards work, and everyone I know who's tried theirs has been successful.

For tourists, recommend riding after dinner and/or on bike paths and lower traffic areas, and on Sundays when many roads are closed to traffic. Bicycling in Paris is not for the faint of heart, and those bikes are a bit heavy, bulky, and awkward. Takes some effort to get used to the brakes.
djkbooks is offline  
Nov 9th, 2009, 09:14 PM
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Maybe the writer of the article is afraid that the Velib system will be instituted in the US and doesn't want that to happen. Maybe it's the same writer who keeps dissing Europe and Canada's versions of universal healthcare because they couldn't possibly be better than the current US system!
bluzmama is offline  
Nov 9th, 2009, 09:37 PM
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I agree, djkbooks. I was terrified the first time I took to the streets. Even though it is relatively easy to build confidence fast (especially with all of the other bikes on the streets now), I would recommend starting on a weekend morning or one of the mostly protected areas for a first try.
kerouac is offline  
Nov 10th, 2009, 05:51 AM
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djkbooks and kerouac - thanks for your replies based on actual experience. Good points, we will take the time to map out some routes early on that are in low traffic areas and practice in the evenings and on Sunday.
flounder is offline  
Nov 10th, 2009, 06:52 AM
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I just read the NYtimes article and i did not come away with the feeling that the program is not a huge success and that there are not plenty of bikes in working shape - it did say a Heruclalean job was being done by JC LaC to relace and repair but it is at a rather staggering cost

Q - why do those bikes cost so much? The more they are worth the more likely ending up in Budapest or Bucharest?

anyway any launch of a unique program in a city so so big is bound to have initial problems unforeseen and steps are being taken to theft-proof the bikes, etc.

Bravo a Paris!
Palenque is offline  
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