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.


  1. Mike Myers

    Well, nobody can be surprised, can they? All public services in big cities are subjected to vandalism and theft—look at public bathrooms anywhere. The only reason buses and subway cars aren’t stolen is because they’re too big to do so easily.

    You know where a bike share program might work? Someplace like Boulder, Austin, SLC, or any fairly high income suburban or urban area. But if you put a bike share in a big city with low-income people, teenagers, or others with no skin in the game, vandalism and theft are going to occur. It’s a shame, but it’s human nature. People simply don’t respect property they didn’t pay for. That’s why public housing projects are regularly vandalized and destroyed by the inhabitants.

  2. Gary Beaton

    The structure of Montreal’s Bixi system created by Public Bike Share Company (PBSC) was designed to engender a sense of ownership so vandalism seen in Paris would be minimized. Let’s hope PBSC pulls through its financial challenges and keeps expanding the indigenous version of Velib here in North America.

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