Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Success of Velib in Paris Tempered by Costs of Maintenance

with 15 comments

Found on Bike Europe by the indefatigable cycling advocate Ron Richings

Currently there are 16,000 Vélib’s in circulation while there will be 20,600 bikes by the end of 2008. Between 2001 and 2007, the number of bikers in Paris has increased by 94% while car traffic has dropped 20% since then. Today the bike accounts for 2 to 3% of all traffic in Paris.

The down site of Vélib’s success is the huge cost as a result of vandalism and spare parts. In the first half year JCDecaux already spent € 20.6 million to keep the bikes on the road.

I really enjoyed my day on Velib – but the comments about vandalism struck a chord. But there are so many bikes available that you do not get stuck with a clunker for long, just swap it at the next “station”!

By the way take a look at the parked cars – in Parisian terms those are generous gaps between the cars. Compare this use of curb space to Steveston where Richmond has managed to cut the number of parking spaces available by simply painting lines to delineate each space – and each one large enough for an SUV!

Velib a Paris

Velib a Paris

Written by Stephen Rees

August 5, 2008 at 4:35 pm

Posted in bicycles, Transportation

Tagged with , ,

15 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Love the success story though there is some caution about transplanting the experience:
    (1) If I remember correctly from my (now ancient history 1985) biketrip, Paris is relatively flat and most car drivers had probably personal experience as bicycle riders
    (2) there was a huge, significant transit strike in Paris during the test year which really would have boosted the numbers of bicycle riders


    August 5, 2008 at 5:36 pm

  2. An interesting tidbit is that over 17% of the bikes in Paris have already been stolen, hard to say if we will have the same issue here, but my gut feeling is it would be even worse.

    Joe just Joe

    August 5, 2008 at 6:09 pm

  3. Can you provide a source for that “tidbit” Joe?

    Stephen Rees

    August 5, 2008 at 6:16 pm

  4. Interesting. In Stuttgart we’re quietly doing the same and it seems to be working: We’ve just been told there are even more stations around the city, and I’ve not heard anything about vandalism. I’ll have a look for some stastistics.
    BTW, Stuttgart is the only German city where the Metro has a rack line.

    Andy in Germany

    August 6, 2008 at 4:56 am

  5. I got interested and checked: Stuttgart has 400 bikes and just increased to 65 stations with 10 parking places each. They have been running since June 2007 and Deutsche Bahn (Who run the system) claim 20 000 journeys were made in the first half of 2008. (Source: The average ride is about 3Km and 40 minutes so it looks like people are using the bike between transit and the shops. Apparently there is a big trend in the region of people moving from car to bike because of oil costs, apparently the bike shops reported a 57% increase in sales for mid-range bikes in this year, and a 68% increase in repairs. Even better, there’s a growing demand for more bike paths. Now, if we can do it (Bearing in mind we are the base of Mercedes and Porsche, one of the worst polluted cities in Germany and have very steep hills on three sides) anyone can.

    Andy in Germany

    August 6, 2008 at 5:42 am

  6. Actually Andy, the ‘rack’ line is light rail and not a heavy-rail metro. Speaking about bikes, the ‘rack’ line has wee bicycle cars so people do not have to pedal uphill to the university!

    I used Stuttgart’s ‘rack’ LRT with Translink as an example of cost effective way of climbing the steep grade out of Port Moody and providing an ‘all weather’ light rail connection to SFU. An email I received some time ago from a transit ‘type’ in Germany went something like this.

    When one builds large transit generators in extraordinary places (SFU is on top of a mountain), then one must provide extraordinary transit solutions.”

    All I got back from Translink was that a ‘rack’ line would probably be too expensive to build and operate. Yet, according to Stadler the company that makes ‘rack’ light rail vehicles, the cost would be about 10% higher than the cost for LRT, only on the sections needing ‘rack’. The same is true with vehicle costs.

    Malcolm J.

    August 6, 2008 at 8:11 am

  7. The data came in an article in the Vancouver courier. Here is the link

    Take a look at the following document it has a study conducted by Bunt and Associations about a possible addition to Pacific centre. Great read.

    Click to access 080716.pdf

    Also from the COV.

    Click to access tt1.pdf

    Joe just Joe

    August 6, 2008 at 2:24 pm

  8. I posted the source but it doesn’t not appear to be coming up.
    Anyways in case it fails to show up here it is again

    It states that over 3000 bikes have already been stolen.

    Joe just Joe

    August 6, 2008 at 3:14 pm

  9. interesting I’ve posted a link to the source twice and the post is not appearing. What gives?

    Joe just Joe

    August 6, 2008 at 7:51 pm

  10. Joe

    You – and some other commenters – got caught by Akismet, the spam trap. I have retrieved 5 comments in total including both yours.

    The Courier was actually quoting another article from the New York Times – so it’s at least a secondary source.

    To get any bike out of its stand you need a credit card against which a E150 reserve has been recorded in the event that the bike is not returned. Every velib comes with a lock if you want to park somewhere that is not a station. I imagine this might be where thefts take place – or maybe they fell foul of the bogus credit card scammers. Someone duplicated my Amex card while I was in London, and it was never out of my sight the whole time I was there. We really need chip and PIN cards like they have over there

    Stephen Rees

    August 6, 2008 at 8:48 pm

  11. Hello Malcolm.

    You are right, it is light rail- the problem is in translation. I tend to refer to the Stuttgart system as a ‘Metro’ because it is the best translation I can find for the German ‘Stadtbahn’. How would you translate that if not as Metro? In Europe we seem to refer to Light rail as a ‘Metro’ so it’s good to learn that in the US it’s heavy rail- is that like our S-Bahn systems?

    I agree with you about the excellence of the bike carrying wagons. They are equally usefull for those of us who live in the suburbs and go shopping in Stuttgart…

    Andy in Germany

    August 6, 2008 at 11:26 pm

  12. Joe just Joe said

    “An interesting tidbit is that over 17% of the bikes in Paris have already been stolen”

    In fact this figure is quite incredible

    BUT I heard it* right away from Albert ASSERAF Marketing & Strat. General Manager of JC DECAUX ( Radio France Bleu Ile de France JULY 11th 5 pm )

    *3 000 dégradations volontaires et 3 000 vélos disparus


    August 7, 2008 at 11:48 am

  13. One thing I found remarkable about Paris compared to other European cities (well, the ones that I’ve been too) was the Gas Stations, they were located on narrow sidewalks with the pumps at the curb.

    David Banks

    August 9, 2008 at 12:03 am

  14. I’ve heard it said that the canals of Amsterdam consist of 1/3 muck, 1/3 water, and 1/3 stoen bicycles. While that may be apocryphal (read: big fat lie), Wikipedia (yeah, I know, I know) claims that 100,000 bicycles are stolen each year. I’d post the reference but that’d trigger the spamtrap, and besides, it’s in Dutch.

    David Banks

    August 9, 2008 at 12:17 am

  15. […] won’t go, since I have already had a chance to sample the Paris velib program, so I am already a convert! But one thing we will need to sort out is how is this program […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: