Photo: Jean-Jean-François Gornet under a Creative Commons License
Vélib',Paris' bike-share system, has come a long way since it was first introduced in July of 2007. From 10,000 bikes to 17,000, and 750 rental stations to 1,202 (that's one every 300 meters), Vélib' has one of the largest and most successful systems of its kind in the world. With its fourth birthday approaching, the City of Paris is proposing a series of improvements and new rental plans that will ensure the system keeps getting bigger and better.Currently, you can sign up for a yearly subscription, for 29€, for a single day, for 1€, or for a week, for 5€. Whichever you choose, when you take out a bike, the first 30 minutes are free, the second half hour costs 1€, the third costs 2€. It's a system designed to encourage short-term use, for getting from Point A to Point B. The proposed changes are efforts to make using a Vélib' even more convenient and quicker, as well as more practical.
New internet and smartphone services and ways to sign up will eliminate the waiting time between signing up and hopping on a bike, and if you can't return a bike because the nearest station is full, you won't be penalized for the extra time it takes to find another.
Photo: David Stirling under a Creative Commons License
Also, that free first half hour is bumping up to 45 minutes, if you sign up for a Vélib' Passion year-long subscription. It's a bit pricier, at 39€ (with 10-20€ reductions for those 14-26), but will make the bike-share a better solution for those whose commutes are longer take longer than 30 minutes, providing big savings over time.
Not all of the changes will be cheered, however: the price of a daily ticket will rise to 1.70€ (the price of a metro ticket), and the weekly will go up to 8€. The upside of those increases may be that they will push Parisians to sign up for yearly subscriptions- which, the City argues, are the most cost-efficient choice, even if you only take out a bike once every three weeks.
Next week, the changes will be submitted to the City Council for approval. We'll have to wait and see if they're adopted, and then what effect they actually have on people's daily use of the system. But no matter what, it's good to see that Paris is committed to the Vélib', that it isn't going to succumb to vandalism, and that it's doing all it can to make it a better and more popular way to get around.
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More on what Paris is doing to go green:
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The Ultimate Green House: Lost In Paris House by R&Sie; Architects