While NYC prepares for the launch of the Citi Bike Share program, it’s worth taking a look at the King of All Bike Shares in France to get an idea of what we can expect in the next few months.
Paris launched its Velib bike sharing program in 2007. The New York Times wrote in 2009 that the “French utopia has met a prosaic reality” as many bikes were stolen, vandalized with others ending up on the black market in Eastern Europe and North Africa. The article noted that 80 percent of the initial fleet of 20,600 bikes had been stolen or damaged.
The paper quoted a Le Monde editorial which said, “The symbol of a fixed-up, eco-friendly city has become a new source for criminality. The Vélib’ was aimed at civilizing city travel. It has increased incivilities.”
The Paris program is now considered a hit and all observers claim New York’s will also be very popular.
However, anyone who has witnessed a tourist clumsily and illegally riding a bike on the Promenade or watched a determined 5 year old ride their scooter (also illegally) down the Squibb Park ramp and bridge or dodged skateboarders and BMXers anywhere in the neighborhood knows that the scenes in these Paris videos are destined to be in our future: