Well, over the course of reading many papers and articles about Vélib’, I found myself thinking often, yes, it’s cool that there are 20,000 Vélib’s rolling about the streets of Paris, and yes, it’s cool that Vélib’ can boast of almost 250,000 subscribers, but just who are these people pedaling the Vélib’s?
At this point we’ve discussed the history of bikeshare, the origins of Vélib’, the safety of riding in the streets of Paris, the network of stations, and a bit on the bicycles themselves. Infrastructure aside, it’s time to focus on the squishy parts in between that link the physical elements of bikeshare together: the actual Vélib’ operation itself.
Not being markedly car-friendly is not the same thing as being cyclist-friendly. Thus in 2001 when the Delanoë administration wanted to make a dent in the vehicular traffic cramming itself through Paris’ streets, it needed to shape the existing urban environment to be more proactively friendly to cyclists.
Vélib’s origins lie in Delanoë’s policy of deemphaising vehicular travel in the city of Paris — heartening news for policy wonks worldwide. (Plus more on safety and the history of Vélib’ in this epic second installment!)
Ok, after four months in France, it’s time to take stock of what I know about Vélib’, bikesharing, and the bicycle scene in Paris.
Ten days ago I had worked up such a fury. Oh, I really had, and last night on my way to my friend’s dinner party, I was so moved again by the same Vélib’-parking rage to add bits to bytes and rail against the obvious, inconvenient weaknesses of the Parisian bikesharing system.
Today was my first ride on the Vélib’ since arriving in September! And what a great day to take it out for a spin. A few observations worth sharing:
Mon Petit Tour de Paris, a gallery on Flickr. Photos reminiscent of my first Vélib’ ride in 2012.