The Transformative Potential of Bike Sharing

Can a bike-sharing program transform a city? To mark the second anniversary of the Vélib system in Paris, Streetsblog Network member World Streets has a post arguing that it can, if it’s done on a sufficient scale:

velib_station2.jpgOne of the complaints currently being voiced in the UK press
about
the new public bike start-up in the city of Bristol is that it is too
small, insufficiently visible and generally hard to get at — and that
it thus fails to achieve the level of massive use that is necessary if
what you want is a city transformation project. Is that what your public bicycle project is supposed to do? Transform your city?

It
can, you know. Not all by itself, of course. But if you put it together
with a carefully thought-out integrated package of new mobility
measures, you can create a powerful component of the transformational
process.

The World Streets post includes several links to videos about Vélib, including one from the PBS e2 series on transport that aired last fall (and one from Streetfilms). Good food for thought as New York and other cities in the US and around the world study and implement their own programs.

Another post that caught our eye on the network this morning was Copenhagenize‘s proposal for a "Driving Kills" PSA campaign. It wouldn’t just focus on the toll of crashes, either:

driving_kills_audi_emissions.pngIn Denmark, 4000 people die every year because of the health hazards related to cars
— and that’s ten times greater than the number of people actually
killed in car accidents. Respiratory illnesses, heart disease,
stress-related illnesses caused by noise pollution, etc.

Very few people are aware that the levels of dangerous microparticles from exhaust are actually higher INSIDE the car than if you’re cycling next to it. So let’s focus on this fact and hopefully encourage motorists to think twice about their actions.

Shouldn’t
we have rules dictating that all advertisments for automobiles must
have clearly visible warning labels? There are a variety of smoking
texts that can be applied to the car health warnings.

Also, Biker Chicks of West Chester has a rant about the way bike shops treat older women — don’t they want more people on bikes? And WashCycle challenges men to help fight the harassment women sometimes face when they go out for a ride.

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Bike-Share: Not Just for French Commies

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In Montreal, theft is "not a major problem" for the bike-share network. Photo: TreeHugger. The New York Times ran a piece on Vélib’s growing pains this weekend. The story is more thoroughly reported than the hatchet job we saw from the BBC back in February — no claims that bike-share in Paris will flame out […]

Streetsblogger Goes to Paris, Rides Velib

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For More Pictures of Biking and Bike Sharing in Paris, Visit Anna’s Kodak Gallery Streetsblog contributor Anna Chow recently visited Paris and rented some bicycles from Velib.  Given the discussion on bike-sharing here in Los Angeles it seemed a more than an appropriate time to share her experience with those of us that haven’t been […]

Happy Birthday, Vélib

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Here’s another transportation policy success story from France. The Vélib bike-sharing system celebrates its one-year anniversary today. In April, Streetfilms’ Elizabeth Press was in Paris to learn more about it. Here is her video and report: On July 15, 2007 Paris debuted the world’s largest self-service "bicycle transit system" called Vélib outdoing previously designed bike […]

Reports of Vélib’s Demise Greatly Exaggerated

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JCDecaux touted Vélib on the cover of its 2007 annual report [PDF]. If you’ve read this BBC story currently making the rounds, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Vélib, Paris’s wildly popular bike-share system, has suddenly been afflicted by an epidemic of theft and vandalism that threatens its very existence. Vélib bikes have been "torched," […]