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 to Paris since July of
2007.

For those of you not following the bike share trend that is spreading worldwide, NYC Streetsblog has written about Velib several times.  At Velib’s 1st birthday, they described it as:

On July 15, 2007 Paris debuted the world’s largest self-service "bicycle transit system" called Vélib outdoing previously designed bike share programs.
Vélib is a balance of scale and functionality, clocking in with more
than 20,000 bikes, and 1,451 docking stations, which are never more
than 1,000 feet apart. As a result, Vélib is effectively a new form of
public transportation that has generated more than 25 million new
bicycle trips in its first year, 10% of which substitute former car
trips.

Anna and her traveling companion took their Velib bicycles to a farmer’s market and on a trip around The Seine.  Just as Councilman LaBonge noticed in Berlin and Bordeaux,
Anna found a lot more people commuting by bicyle than in Los Angeles. 
And of course, Europeans have no problem commuting in suits and other
work clothes.

As for Velib itself, the bikes have large enough baskets in the
front to put groceries, extra clothing and other smaller items.  The
bikes themselves slide easily into and out of the locking mechanisms,
although some of them had flat tires or poorly working breaks.  If you
plan to use Velib, check your bike before renting it.  There were no
problems with the bikes they rented and they rode them for for several miles around town.

As for the big question, having experienced bike sharing in France,
does Anna think it could work here?  She writes, "Not sure if it would
work as well here, perhaps not for the entire city, but certain parts
of the city…."

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