These Videos Show Bike Share Mischief In Paris – Is Brooklyn Heights Next?

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:

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  • Jorale-man

    What is going on with the BHB? It’s suddenly become the NY Post and Gothamist of neighborhood blogs. Please, Home and Chuck – you set such a high standard on a regular basis, I’d hate to see the blog go down this path. Cherry-picking a few vandalism incidents from Paris several years ago and suggesting that it’s indicative of all bike-sharing programs is bordering on irresponsible.

  • ClintonStreet

    Truly pathetic. Why not use your blog to help Bklyn Hts residents better understand bike-share and how it works? Why would you want to be yet another fear-mongering, misinforming tabloid outlet? We already have plenty of those.

  • St

    What a crappy post. Brookkyn Heights deserves better than what you’re providing.

  • Dan Berkman

    There’s no news here. The article that you link to from the times appeared four years ago. Cities from Boston to Minneapolis to Barcelona have successful bike sharing systems What exactly was the point of this post if not to mock people who like the idea of having a bike sharing system in Brooklyn Heights?

    How many people said Bryant Park would be filled with drug dealers forever(remember how all the new chairs would be stolen)? How many people said pooper scooper laws were anti-pet and wouldn’t work in lawless NYC? How many people said that forbidding smoking in restaurants would kill the food and beverage industry? How many people said that the Times Square and Herald Square pedestrian plazas would end life as we know it?

    CitiBike will succeed in Brooklyn and every other borough. I would bet that in a few years it will become part of the fabric of the city just like yellow cabs and jaywalking.

  • Eric McClure

    Fail. Idiotic.

  • jazz

    it’s official bike advocates are from other nabes and 1000 percent devoid of a sense of humor or civility

  • Arch Stanton

    Homer, please change page background color from white to yellow.

  • brooklynheightsblog

    This is a blog. We blog about stuff. This is stuff we should be talking about. This is what happened when Paris started its program. It’s all sunshine and happiness now but this is what is was like THEN. What we find the most enlightening is the reaction of the advocates of the program. Perhaps they should follow the comment of one David on Middagh who at least is still following the plot.

  • Mike K


    After many years of following the blog, I started posting here under the username ‘mucow’. This morning it looks like all my posts have been deleted, and my account banned from the site. I didn’t post anything inflammatory, insult anyone, etc.; I was just trying to offer data-backed, reasoned arguments for the Citibike program. (MonroeOrange, another poster with concerns about the program, called me a “delight” to debate with, in fact!)

    I’ve been a Heights resident for years now, and I’ve really been enjoying the blog, but this has me confused — I scroll through the comments, and see far more inflammatory and counterproductive posts staying up, while mine are deleted. I’d just like to know the rationale for expunging my posts from the site — I’m not sure if the commenting system allows for direct messaging or not, but I’d be happy to chat over email, etc.

    -Mike, on Hicks St.

  • Mike K

    I’m disappointed, too. This morning, BHB deleted all my posts from the site (I’d been posting as ‘mucow’), with no reason given, and banned my account from the site. I think the reason was a negative mention on Twitter, maybe? I’ve been a Heights resident for years now, following the blog the whole time, and I’m really surprised to see them act like this.

  • T

    Why were my comments deleted? Because I disagree with you? Shameful.

  • Doug G.

    It’s your blog and you’re obviously entitled to your opinion, but I think you should do a better job of getting your facts straight.

    Yes, there was vandalism and theft when Paris first launched a bike share system. But the system was completely overhauled and there’s barely been a problem since. New York’s system will be based on both the Paris and London bike share systems, which have had very few issues. It’s telling that you had to find videos from 2007 and 2008 to make your case.

    And even if the videos were more recent, so what? You found 4 videos showing people doing bad things on bikes. I could easily find 4 videos of people doing bad things in taxis, on buses, or in private cars. Does that mean those things are doomed to failure in NYC?

    So, yeah, a few idiots will do stupid stuff on bike share bikes. But big deal!

    And seriously? You’re defending yourself by relying on some commenter named David on Middagh as your source?

    Come one, BHB! You can do better than this!

  • BrooklynBugle

    Comments are moderated by the community who are able to flag comments as “inappropriate”.

  • DIBS

    100,000 bikes are stolen in Amsrterdam every year

  • Aurelie

    Hello, I’m actually a former parisian, enjoying living in the heights since 2011.

    I have mixed feelings about this article. First, because it describes the first years in Paris, adjusting to the program, not the last ones. The city has been able to improve the system, so that it becomes more reliable.

    I am not a good biker, so I only used it in parks, and it was a lot of fun. Many of my friends use it regularly, because Paris subways stop at 1am or 2am during the weekend, and you are lucky if you find a single cab to drive you home after this time (even before).

    I don’t think people will use the citybikes in NYC for the same reasons as in Paris. The only concern I have has nothing to do with vandalism or using bikes in the stairs. These are a few videos inspired by Jackass, and it does not show the real users. Moreover, you cannot compare Paris culture to NYC : Paris doesn’t put chairs and tables in the street for common use because people would steal them…

    My main concern is for the safety of people, especially tourists, who may underestimate the danger, especially in the quiet streets of Brooklyn Heights. Paris had a lot of bike incidents and deaths related to the Vélib program, and I personally have witnessed a lot of them. Expect the same in New York…

    Other than that, I don’t see the reason for such rejection. I have noticed that in general, new yorkers are more enthusiastic and resilient people than parisians. Hope this is not again the “not in my neighborhood” syndrom.

  • Mike K


    I’ve lived in the neighborhood for years, loving the blog the whole time, and I was excited to join in the discussion. This morning I discovered that all of my previous posts (as the user ‘mucow’) have been erased, and by user banned from the blog entirely. Nothing in my posts was inappropriate or offensive — is it possible to discuss why exactly my account was expunged? Are accounts automatically put on block when a user flags something as inappropriate, or does a moderator have to “approve” the ban first? I don’t want to stir up any trouble, I’m just befuddled at why I was banned when other, far more inflammatory posts remain up.

    Mike, on Hicks St.

  • Doug G.

    That’s because they have millions of bikes. Percentage wise, their theft *rate* is rather insignificant.

  • BrooklynBugle

    This has been fixed.

  • mucow

    Thanks! Any idea what happened?

  • mucow

    Bugle fixed the issue. Thanks!

  • mucow

    Bugle restored my account — guess it was a mixup of some kind.

  • MonroeOrange

    great points here…people underestimate how dangerous it is to ride a bike in nyc, especially if you’re not from here.

  • petercow

    The pricing of the system means the chances it will be used by tourists are essentially zero.

  • David on Middagh

    What? I’m no source! Get your facts straight, Doug! I’m just following the plot. :)

  • David on Middagh

    Petercow said: “The pricing of the system means the chances it will be used by tourists are essentially zero.”

    It will be *interesting* to see how this plays out. $9.95 for a day pass seems a bargain compared to other bike rentals. But having to redock the bike every half hour to avoid overtime trip charges… Will the tourists take up the challenge?

  • zburch

    Wow, clearly the BHB is against the bikes. I was in Paris the entire month of April and the bike share program was awesome. Bikers managed to navigate heavy traffic around train stations and all those crazy traffic circles. And…I did not see a single person ever wearing a helmet, which I can only assume more people will do here. Many sidewalks in Paris are very narrow as are bridges and they manage to figure it out. These videos are misleading and pointless. It is like the BHB blog is on some kind of campaign to trash the program. Of course there is a learning curve, but why trash it before it is up and running unless you want to stop it altogether. Shame shame.

  • brooklynheightsblog

    We expect crazy narrowminded talk like that from the Park Slope bike mafia but not from our comrade zburch. All the post says is THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED IN PARIS WHEN THE PROGRAM STARTED. EVERYTHING IS NOW SUNSHINE A LOLLIPOPS.

    For the record, Mr. Taylor’s tendency to write hyperbolic headlines aside, we are not for or against bikes. We do find transportation alternative types to be overly rigid, judgmental and utterly incapable of being capable of understanding anyone’s point but their own.

    This, friends, is why America hates liberals. ;)

    And we know that you are not like that.

  • brooklynheightsblog

    DoM and DIBS (who knew?!) are the only people still on the same frequency as Homer. Oh and the nice French person too.

  • zburch

    I don’t want to waste too much of my time on this, but seriously, I don’t understand what the point of posting these videos could possibly be. Plenty of people are injured doing stupid things like riding between cars on the subway and standing too close to the edge of the platform. What do the idiotic actions of people riding bikes down stairs have to do with the “safety” or viability of the bike share program? I believe most people are pretty sensible and responsible and many will benefit from the bike share. It is a good idea. Bikes exist and are a viable mode of transport. Drivers need to get used to it and share the road. Will there be accidents? Of course, but adjustments can be made as the program goes on. You can get killed by a car walking down the sidewalk too…perhaps it is the cars and their drivers that are the real problem, not the bikes. Too bad the BHB is becoming it’s own troll. I will stop feeding it now….

  • zburch

    Oh, give me a break….I am just saying give it a chance before you pre-judge. I don’t even ride a bike that much. The trajectory of your posts has been negative and meant to incite rather than inform. I think that is pretty clear from your “This is why America hates liberals” comment…which comes off as pretty darn rigid and judgmental. You have shown your true colors now.