This July, Parisians will have an exciting new way to travel around their city. About 1,500 stations stocked with specially designed, vandal-proof bikes will be scattered around the city. Once your membership is paid, and your credit card is on file, the bikes can be borrowed from one station and returned to any other station in the city. Membership ranges from $2 for a day to $40 for a year, and rentals are free for the first 30 minutes. To reduce opportunities for theft, riders will be encouraged to return the bikes to a lock station quickly by incrementally escalating rental fees. The second half hour is $1.30, the third is $2.60 and the price increases from there.
A similar project has been extremely successful in Lyon, where the membership fees are a bit smaller, but biking has been shown to be faster than any other mode of in-city transportation. Lyon's deputy mayor gushes, "It has completely transformed the landscape of Lyon -- everywhere you see people on the bikes."The mayor of Paris hopes for a similar change. His aide, Jean-Luc Dumesnil says, "we think it could change Paris's image -- make it quieter, less polluted, with a nicer atmosphere, a better way of life." I'm pretty sure that's what we're all looking for. And while the Utopian free-bike movements of the past were a nice idea, technology seems to finally have given bike sharing real life.