Green Joyride Sours for Paris' Rental Bikes

Vandalism, theft hurt pioneering program
By Will McCahill,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 31, 2009 9:32 AM CDT
A passerby asks information of a Vélib' employee at a Vélib station in Paris in this 2007 file photo.   (AP Photo)
camera-icon View 3 more images

(Newser) – A public bicycle-rental program launched in Paris in 2007 amid green good feeling has found reality to be a rough ride. Locals and tourists alike get unlimited access to Vélib’s fleet for about $1.50 a day, but some 80% of the $3,500 bikes have been stolen or damaged. “It’s a reflection of the violence of our society and it’s outrageous,” one Parisian tells the New York Times. “The Vélib’ is a public good but there is no civic feeling related to it.”

The bikes often show up in Paris’ poor neighborhoods, joyridden to death by disaffected youth; others have hit the black markets of Eastern Europe and North Africa. The company behind the program has had to hire a slew of repairmen, but it and the city have no plans to take the bikes off the road, citing some 63 million rentals.
(Read more Paris stories.)