Stephen Rees's blog

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

Paris Velib Crushed by Vandalism?

with 11 comments

Bike Europe News

J C Decaux the company that runs the popular rental program in Paris cannot continue with the current level of vanadalism. The City of Paris takes EU20m (CAN$32m) out of the bike scheme but is seemingly not interested in a bail out. But it ” is considering launching an anti-vandalism public awareness operation” which does not sound like much effective action to me.

According to JCDecaux 7,800 of the original 15,000 bikes have disappeared or [been] stolen and 11,600 have been vandalised. Since the start of the program the bikes have been used 42 million times, or an average  every bike 2,800 times!

This is really sad that the people of Paris and their city politicians seem incapable of keeping a very valuable service going. Unfortunately this has been the case elsewhere – for example a much earlier low technology trial of free “white bikes” in Amsterdam, nearly all of which simply ended up being thrown into the canals.

Written by Stephen Rees

February 10, 2009 at 1:58 pm

Posted in bicycles

11 Responses

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  1. If we want the Vélib’ keep on going, we will have to change the business model.

    Maybe more typical rental storefronts/compounds where users could return bikes after use. In that way only the bikes being used are exposed out on the street and would otherwise be held in secure areas overnight. The City would have to pay for leasing space or donate space.

    Ron C.

    February 10, 2009 at 2:11 pm

  2. That’s really sad. But, I do wonder considering how much money the bikes seem to be making, how difficult would it be to replace the bikes every couple of years?

    Also, some kind of additional security would be good as well. Eg, human oversight at popular locations (metro stops) might help a little.

    ps- I think you did you currency calculation wrong. 200m Euro is about 320m CAD.

    Andrew Eisenberg

    February 10, 2009 at 2:24 pm

  3. Corrected – thank you

    Stephen Rees

    February 10, 2009 at 2:57 pm

  4. It is EU20 million per year. This is from the subscription and user fees that the City gets from the use of the bicycles.

    There are 20,000 bicycles. It would cost a fortune to move them indoors in the evening and outdoors in the morning. They would also need about 30,000 square meters of space, which would not be cheap.

    The problem is that JCDecaux main business is advertising and is only interested in bike sharing to the extent that it is an incentive for cities to chose them for their outdoor contracts. I expect that a business whose main business is bike sharing could run a system for less cost.

    That said, JCDecaux has proven that large scale bike sharing systems can be successful.


    February 10, 2009 at 5:21 pm

  5. Arrgh! OK numbers should now be right

    From an earlier edition of Price Tags (which I now cannot find to link to) it seems that they did put a huge effort in to ensuring a reliable system. Obviously they expected some vandalism and theft – just not nearly as much as they have experienced. That is what is driving up costs – not the lack of expertise in the operator.

    Stephen Rees

    February 10, 2009 at 8:03 pm

  6. I haven’t (yet) heard that this is a problem in Stuttgart. This may be because it works using cell phones (to they know who unlocked the bike) and it’s run by a transport company, not for the advertising revenue.

    Andy in Germany

    February 11, 2009 at 7:46 am

  7. Stephen: the Price tag about velib is pricetags101 When the town of Bordeaux was building their new tram system they had a few special storefronts around town allowing people to rent bikes. Obviously in Paris it would take lots of stores for 20 000 bikes and they need to be manned but then this has to be balanced against the money wasted on repairing/ replacing bikes. No point wondering about what Paris should do but if TransLink is serious about implementing such a program then perhaps it should have “bikes stores” within the stations instead of the coffee stores that they are building now (I don’t see too many people buying coffee at the Commercial coffee stand) Having staff monitoring bikes before and after use and getting a credit card number might deter vandalism or robbery if people know that they will pay it. Bike stores already in business in Vancouver could also be part of the program. Personally you wouldn’t pay me enough money to ride a bike in a city, any city… I did ride bikes from the suburbs to downtown Bordeaux in my mid-teens years but in those days there were less cars and one could leave a bike, with stuff in the paniers, outside a store and it would be there 1 hour later.

    Red frog

    February 11, 2009 at 10:27 pm

  8. I believe I mentioned this last year, although the program wasn’t in this much trouble at the time. I would still like to see this implemented in Vancouver but obviously there are lessons to be learned. It’s one of those times where it seems to be a good thing translink is slow to act.

    Joe Just Joe

    February 11, 2009 at 10:29 pm

  9. They did a better job in Lyon. The bikes there were in a lot better shape than in Paris. I suspect in Paris, they multiplied small numbers by 20,000 and came up with big numbers so they ended up cutting corners.


    February 11, 2009 at 10:42 pm

  10. The situation is very disappointing. Hopefully, effective mechanisms for curbing theft and vandalism will be developed in Paris soon.


    February 12, 2009 at 8:33 am

  11. See: Reports of Vélib’s Demise Greatly Exaggerated.


    Inside Source

    February 12, 2009 at 8:28 pm

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