Thefts Plague Pioneering Paris Bike Program

Thieves, daredevils give fleet of rental bikes a rough ride
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 10, 2009 4:17 AM CST

(Newser) – Paris’ widely copied self-service bike rental program has had a much rougher ride than planners bargained for, the Daily Telegraph reports. Almost 8,000 of the 20,000 bikes originally supplied through the Vélib project have been stolen in the past 18 months. Many others have been vandalized or damaged by daredevils trying out stunts in a new craze called "Vélib extreme."

"We underestimated the degree of damage that they would suffer," acknowledged the marketing director of the company that agreed to provide the bikes in return for a license to run the city's billboards. With 1500 of the bikes needing to be repaired or replaced daily, the city has agreed to shoulder some of the costs—and still plans to expand the program.