From PopMatters, 12.14.07:
Move Over, iPhone, the French iBike is the New BlackHas the debut of any bicycle improvement anywhere ever attracted as much attention as Velib' (short for vélo en libre-service or self-service bike)? From the BBC to NPR, from the Christian Science Monitor to CounterPunch, it seems no journalist can visit Paris without remarking on the city's inspiring introduction of bike sharing. The popularity of Velib' surged during Paris' recent transit strike, which challenged city residents to embrace pedaling among other mobility alternatives.
There’s no doubting Paris’ credentials as one of the world’s capitals of culture and style. From handbags to glad rags, from nouvelle cuisine to Nouvelle Vague, the French touch brings a sense of panache to our daily lives--when the City of Light sneezes, the world catches a Gallic shrug.
This year, as if to mark its 218th anniversary, the city of Paris launched its most audacious campaign to date. As Parisians awoke on the morning of 15th July with their retinas still questioning the worth of the previous night’s fireworks, they folded back their volets to discover a brand new dawn.
Thousands of bicycles now populated the city, offering themselves to the inhabitants like willing beasts of burden, only with a handy basket welded to the front. And so Vélib', the public bicycle hire scheme, came to Paris.
The launch of Vélib’, coupled with the proliferation of bicycle lanes, has definitely changed the face of Paris. It is difficult to say if there are fewer cars on the road, but as any motorist will tell you, there are definitely more amateur cyclists. (Read more.)
Image: Web capture.
Visit: A bicycle built for Paris sightseeing, Newsday
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips