Stephen Rees's blog

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

The Decuax Brothers Innovation

with 4 comments


Paris has a striking new hallmark, as anyone who has visited the city in the past year can attest: thousands of gray bicycles that can be rented for a small fee and dropped off at will at high-tech bike stands around town. The Vélib’ self-service scheme has been a roaring success, with more than 30 million rentals since the launch in July 2007. As a result, bicycles have become a mainstream — and very green — form of public transportation in the French capital.

I have written about velib (just click on the tag below) here a number of times and am an admitted fan. This article from Time magazine is from their “moguls and entrepreneurs” series, and is mostly about the business aspects. And I have included it here because I think iot offests some of the rather snarky stuff about thefts and vandalism that seemed to permeate some of the coverage I linked to.

I did not know that it had started in Vienna – or that it has now spread to 49 other cities. Which makes me even more irritated that it seems to be going nowhere fast here, mostly because of all these elections. And probably Vancouver’s long standing distaste for billboards.

(hat tip to HBreen)

Written by Stephen Rees

October 13, 2008 at 12:00 pm

Posted in bicycles

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4 Responses

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  1. I think we could get around the billboard problem. This has always been a great idea, probably going back beyond the free bikes in Amsterdam years ago. I’m of an age when free electric wheelchairs would be more useful than a bike, but it is the kind of idea we need to pursue here.


    October 13, 2008 at 5:55 pm

  2. This quote from the article is a bit of a bummer:
    “Cold is not the enemy of the bicycle,” Decaux says. “Rain is.”


    October 13, 2008 at 6:49 pm

  3. In current LRTA discussions, the Velib and cycling is in the news. One commenter replied that more people in Copenhagen cycle than Amsterdam and a wag replied that was so because Amsterdam has trams (streetcars).

    One thing is certain, the ‘flatter the city’, the more popular bicycles are!

    Malcolm J.

    October 14, 2008 at 7:41 am

  4. For Vancouver, I could see there being sufficient demand to warrant the program on the downtown penninsula and immediate surrounding areas (Kitsilano, Fairview, Mount Pleasant,and Strathcona) – but no farther than that. I would also expect a tide of bikes leaving those surrounding areas in the morning and returning in the evening, rather than an even all day ebb and flow of bikes in those surrounding areas (i.e. bike stands in those areas wouldn’t be replenished during the day at the same volumes as the bikes left the area). Downtown would probably see a more even usage and dropping off of bikes during the day. To accommodate the morning influx, you’d probably need a significant excess of bike stands over the number of bikes (otherwise incoming cyclists wouldn’t have a place to deposit their bikes).

    Ron C.

    October 14, 2008 at 11:05 am

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