On July 15, 2007 Paris debuted the world's largest self-service "bicycle transit system" called Vélib outdoing previously designed bike share programs. Vélib is a balance of scale and functionality, clocking in with more than 20,000 bikes, and 1,451 docking stations, which are never more than 1,000 feet apart. As a result, Vélib is effectively a new form of public transportation that has generated more than 25 million new bicycle trips in its first year, 10% of which substitute former car trips.A great report from the talented folks at StreetFilms.org about the first anniversary of the exciting bike-sharing program in the French capital, Paris Vélib. Several other articles have appeared this week, looking at the experience of Paris Vélib. An extensive article in the British Independent hails the program as a great success, despite having nearly a third of the bicycles vandalized or stolen and the deaths of two riders on Paris Vélib bikes (out of 26 million total users over the year.)
Today the program celebrates its first anniversary...In Paris, Vélib has saved the city 10 million km in car trips, roughly equal to $10 million in savings. With 200,000 Parisians paying the city $50 each for an annual Velib pass, this has yielded an additional $10 million in revenues. Beyond economics, Paris has seen tremendous traffic calming and air quality benefits from this public bicycle system. (Read more.)
Yet despite the problems, fashion-conscious Parisians have decided Vélib is cool, and fits into their lifestyles. "Everyone has seen for themselves that you can ride in a suit or high-heels without being obliged to wear Lycra shorts," one bike enthusiast told Le Monde...Describing Vélib' as a "form of utopia', Libération newspaper said that the presence of thousands of slow-moving, stately bikes has also had a soothing effect on Paris' frenetic pace. "At the speed of a bicycle, an idea is gaining ground: one of a less arrogant and more human city," it said.The hordes of Paris Vélib users also seems to be pushing the city to further enhance its already significant network of bikeways. The article also indicates Vélib stations are gaining a reputation as "propitious for flirting."
The Independent (UK) reports:
"In the space of one year the vélib' has become a Parisian institution, giving the streets and boulevards of the French capital a vague air of Amsterdam or Cambridge."Agence France Presse reports that 94 percent of Parisians approve of Paris Vélib, and that judicial authorities have approved the program's expansion to neighboring communities. The New York Times also suggests that Paris Velib is prompting supportive bicycling policies, quoting one authority: "Bicycles become fashionable, and the more bikes there are in a city, the safer it is, and the more the city will give space to bicyclists."
Many bicycle advocates around the world have been paying attention to the Paris Vélib experience, and its success is inspiring similar programs in other cities. The first American city to launch a similar bike-sharing program is Washington DC, where delayed launch of SmartBike is set for August.
Visit: Is Boston Ready For a Revolution?, Boston Globe Magazine
Visit: No easy ride for bike programs, USA Today
Visit: Bike culture rolls into the mainstream, Globe & Mail (Toronto)
Visit: Bike-Sharing Gets Smart, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: More love for Paris Vélib, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paris Velib is chic, trendy, hip, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site