Planning: Paris Aims to Cut Traffic With Bikes
Elsewhere in the country, in such places as Austin, Boulder, San Francisco, Madison, Minneapolis, Oakland, Boston, Seattle, Athens (Georgia) and Lawrence (Kansas), the city governments are devoted to expanding the use of bicycles to mitigate traffic and air pollution, providing hundreds of miles of bike trails and dedicated traffic lanes to thousands of communters.
But nowhere has an American city gone as far as Paris (France, not Texas) where, according to a story today in the New York Times, city hall launched a new municipal service that has placed 10,600 bikes at 750 stations all over town.
Any user can rent and return a bike from any station anywhere in the city. A yearlong pass for the service costs $39.50, a one-day pass goes for $1.36, and a seven-day ticket is $6.80. But the project is designed for short rides (the first half hour is free) and is priced on a sliding scale to keep the bikes in rotation.
The program, called Velib' from the words for bike (velo) and liberty (liberte), is being pushed by Socialist Mayor Bertrand Delanoe who, like his counterparts in London and New York, has made fighting traffic and pollution his No. 1 goal.
For Parisians, the bicycle service means another public transport option, in addition to the subway, buses and trams, Delanoe said.
"In the morning, you can go to work in the tram and come home by bike; it depends on the weather, it depends on your mood and on your friends," Delanoe said at the launch.
Business was brisk the first day, according to the Times. The service is accessible to tourists as well as residents; it's offered in eight languages, and its machines accept foreign credit cards.
Paris is following the example of other European cities with inexpensive bicycle services, including Stockholm, Vienna, Brussels, Barcelona and Copenhagen. The City of Light now has 230 miles of bike lanes.
Full disclosure: I suggested a similar idea for Santa Monica a couple of years ago. General hilarity ensued. He who laughs last, though. I'm just sayin'.
The rest of the story: The New York Times