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Tag Archive: velib

A guide to a successful bike sharing program

We’ve seen more and more cities roll out bike-sharing schemes, from Divvy to CitiBike, from Velib to Mejor en Bici. We LOVE bike shares, and we’ve seen them be wild successes and dismal failures.

You know what? There’s a new guide out that can help cities develop programs on the “wild success” side of the coin. The guide was created by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP):

More than 600 cities around the globe have bike share systems, and new systems are starting every year. The largest and most successful systems, in places such as China, Paris, London, and Washington, D.C., have helped to promote cycling as a viable and valued transport option.

This guide evaluates international best practice in bike share, helps to bridge the divide between developing and developed countries’ experiences to provide guidance on planning and implementing a successful bike share system regardless of the location, size, or density of your city.

mejor en b

Read some highlighst of the guide by visiting this Treehugger page, or download the 152-page PDF guide directly from the ITDP here.

A peek behind the scenes at Chicago’s Divvy

As many of you may know, we’re big fans of bike sharing schemes around here. And we’re pretty fascinated by the inner workings of such bike share programs.

divvy

Now, here’s a bit of a teaser into Chicago’s Divvy Bikes. There’s not a ton of detail, but still an interesting short read:

There are no signs or banners on this nondescript industrial warehouse in West Town to indicate that the 18,000-square-foot structure is headquarters for what could soon become the largest commuter cycling system in the country.

“It’s intentional,” Divvy Deputy General Manager Elliot Greenberger said. “We’re off the radar.”

Read the full article by visiting the RedEye Chicago page.

Bike share woes in the City of Light

Here’s some sobering news from Paris, home to Velib, one of the first commercial bike-share schemes and the Western world’s largest, most ambitious share program:

While North America has been buzzing with enthusiasm over the relatively recent introduction of bike-share, there’s been some sobering news recently from a city that’s had its system in place since 2007. Home to the largest bike-share program outside China, it turns out Paris has been losing its bikes to theft and vandalism. A lot of bikes.

According to figures unearthed by Le Monde last week, 9,000 bikes from Paris’ Vélib’ bike-share system were damaged or stolen last year. As of this summer, 35 bike stations across the city had been shut down for repairs or due to bike shortages, leaving gaps in availability that can’t be fixed even by the usual daily redistribution of bicycles back to outlying stations.

Read the full article and all the lurid details by visiting the Atlantic Cities page directly.

Vue du Bistrot 13

We’ve written extensively on Paris’ Velib bike share plan before…and are big fans. Here’s hoping the city can figure out how to retain bikes, stop vandalism, and keep the program running smoothly.

Lose the helmet…gain ridership?

In the ongoing “Great Helmet Debate”, a recent article in the New York Times raises some interesting points. The article is mostly about helmet use in bike-share programs (like Paris’s “Velib” or Minneapolis’s “Nice Ride“), but also addresses the different mindsets between Euro- and U.S.-based bicycle advocates:

In the United States the notion that bike helmets promote health and safety by preventing head injuries is taken as pretty near God’s truth. Un-helmeted cyclists are regarded as irresponsible, like people who smoke. Cities are aggressive in helmet promotion.

But many European health experts have taken a very different view: Yes, there are studies that show that if you fall off a bicycle at a certain speed and hit your head, a helmet can reduce your risk of serious head injury. But such falls off bikes are rare — exceedingly so in mature urban cycling systems.

On the other hand, many researchers say, if you force or pressure people to wear helmets, you discourage them from riding bicycles.

Take a look at the full article by visiting the NYT page.

Personally, I am no fan of mandatory helmet laws for adults. The Libertarian-leaning among you (and others, of course) may agree that the government has no business legislating personal choices such as wearing a helmet. For children, that’s another matter altogether…I am definitely in favor of helmet laws for kids. My feeling is this: if you want to wear a helmet, cool. If you don’t, that’s cool too…but I reserve the right to privately think you’re a bit foolish for not doing so. I’m not going to get in your face about it, however — you’ve made your decision based on what you know or think and that’s fine with me.

Frankly, I don’t know enough about the helmet studies to know if helmet laws reduce cycling participation or not. I will say that the few I’ve looked at didn’t seem particularly rigorous from a scientific perspective.

I am curious to hear your thoughts on the matter — the helmet debate can get people pretty heated up, so let’s try to keep the discussion friendly, ok? Alright, let’s hear from you in the comments below.

Two Girls and Two Bikes in the City of Light!

Salut les Bike Commuters! Mir.I.Am is fresh off the jet from France and ready to report on the lovely life on two wheels from the City of Light – Paris.  I just spent several weeks in France (oui, oui, depending on your point of view, cue a “scowl of disgust” or “sigh of extreme jealousy,” dear readers).  Ever since investigating the bike share options in Paris and Bordeaux last year, I’ve been anxious to see Paris from a bike’s eye view.

From the Bike's Eye View in Paris

Two Girls – one with a Backache. My Parisienne friend was incapable of taking the Metro around the city.  Thanks to a chronic back injury, she was on intense medication with doctor’s orders claiming no standing on her feet for more than two minutes at a time. Walking was out of the question and the Velib bikes near her house were always checked out, since she lives on the top of a hill.  Lucky for us, the two bikes in her garage were the perfect option for two girls touring around the City of Light!  We packed up our locks, bags, and water for the road, and set off for a day of errands and sight-seeing rolled into one!

Marion on her B*Twin step through, with my pink bag in the basket.

Two M’s: Marion & Mir.I.Am. Just like Task Force Chicago, we played follow the leader, with Marion as the leader and me the tourist sheep on two wheels.  It’s so stress free to follow a seasoned local bike commuter when you’re brain is in vacation mode, no need to tape maps to handlebars or plan out routes!  A bike commuting tip from Marion: make sure to loop part of your bag over your handlebars if your bag is in the front basket since bags are easily snatched at red lights or while biking through slow traffic in Paris.

My Parisian ride was the silver "Le Super"

An atypical bike commute for me, I was without helmet (don’t judge), blessed with a slow-leaking back tire, riding a single speed (by default due to broken cables), with a busted built-in generator headlight, but hey – Le Super bike was $free.99 with legit street cred.  I mean, look at the thing!  I climbed aboard with enthusiasm and a smile, as we pedaled through Paris running errands with plenty of scenic architecture along the way like the Paris Opera.

Flowers in your back rack!

Everywhere you look, bikes in the street.

Strangely enough, I noticed that bike lanes and routes were often in the opposite direction of traffic on One-Way streets.  We navigated several roundabouts, green painted bike lanes, bike boxes, sandy paths in parks, and construction zones.  The two girls on two bikes snaked through the city, avoid congested boulevards in favor of smaller back alleys.  Marion explained to me that we give right of way to the traffic coming from the right (at least this is what I think she said in French), and that there were several laws we were breaking but she’s never been caught!  Welp, no time to ask questions, so we ride on and do as the locals do.  Off to run our errands: picking up some new duds for me and maybe some bling bling.

First errand - pick up a new outfit for me, just my size!

Off to the next destination!

Second errand, pick up my necklace from the jewelers...

Two hours of Biking = What an appetite! All smiles and a light sweat later, with errands under way… time for a tasty lunch in a car free zone at Rue Montorgueil!  Merci to Marion for taking me to another great local spot.  There were tons of bikes shackled up against the fences, and the pedestrian quarter was short but sweet.  Sunshine, cigarettes, and salad at a tiny table and chairs at an outdoor cafe was exactly what we needed to recharge.  Bon appetit, mes Bike Commuters.

Getting hungry after a few hours of running errands, off to find FOOD!

The best parking spots - for BIKES only in the pedestrian quarter!

Nom, nom. Salad time.

Two Bikes round up the Sites. We ended our day (a total of 6 hours of girly fun bike time) by taking the scenic route home, through Pere Lachaise Cemetery.  In all my visits to Paris, I had never been to this famous cemetary.  We rolled up to the automobile entry and were halted by the lady at the guardshack.  To our surprise, she told us it was interdit to bring bikes into the cemetary!  We expalined to her that we fully intended to walk our bikes through, as it is pretty steep, bumpy with cobble stones, and I was riding Le Super default single-speed.  But, there was no reasoning with the law, she said we would have to lock our velos outside the cemetery and walk around inside without them.  We left the auto entry and turned the corner, where we decided to sneak in via the pedestrian entry and carry our bikes up the staircase.  I went up first with Le Super to check for a guard, so Marion wouldn’t have to carry the B*Twin up the steps if we were going to get caught.  Lucky for us, a group of 30 middle schoolers were at the top of the staircase, creating a perfect diversion for us to sneak past…  Merveilleuses Marion and Mir.I.Am made it into Pere Lachaise!

Well worth the effort of sneaking in with our bikes!

The cemetery is enormous, like a mini-neighborhood

The Bike’s Eye View is the BEST Eye View of  Paris. So touring about Paris from the saddle of a junky old bike, I decided I liked what I saw.  Two girls playing follow the leader on two bikes in the City of Light was the best way to get around Paris in the summer.  Imagine all the things we would’ve missed in the Metro!  Imagine how sweaty we would be if we had to hoof it around the city instead.  It was so fast to get around by bike that it made the big city feel small.  Enjoy your summer, and enjoy your vacation commutes, Cycle Ladies and Gents!

A little Bike Love from France!