The wheels are coming off the track for the Vélib bicycle programme in Paris, a subject I have been following since its inception. According to this BBC write-up (taken in turn from Le Parisien), the Parisians seem to have taken a little too much liberty with the vélo liberté…
It seems that, after 18 months, the verdict is that the Vélib system in Paris simply does not function. The city of Paris has had to indemnify JCDecaux for the damage and disappearance of so many bicycles. In fact, 19,600 out of 20,000 bicycles have had to be replaced or repaired, with nearly 8,000 of them having disappeared (into Eastern Europe and Africa). The replacement value of each bike is 400 euros, not cheap, eh? And, then there is the Vélib Extrême / Freeride trend which has popped up on YouTube.
What a poor statement. The youtube site disclaims: “none of the vélibs in this film were mistreated…” Appropriately, the accompanying music is Highway to Hell. Why has the criminal underworld descended on Paris? How many Parisians are responsible themselves? How is it that the similar programmes work so much better in other cities? And, importantly, for cities wanting to replicate the Parisian system (London, San Francisco…), how can such base vandalism be avoided?