Paris Embraces Plan to Become City of Bikes


The Velo'v public bicycle system in Lyon, France. By the end of 2007 the city of Paris will have 1,450 bike stations offering 20,000 bicycles.

The Washington Post reports:

On July 15, the day after Bastille Day, Parisians will wake up to discover thousands of low-cost rental bikes at hundreds of high-tech bicycle stations scattered throughout the city, an ambitious program to cut traffic, reduce pollution, improve parking and enhance the city's image as a greener, quieter, more relaxed place.

The program was meant "not just to modify the equilibrium between the modes of transportation and reduce air pollution, but also to modify the image of the city and to have a city where humans occupy a larger space."

The Socialist mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe, has the same aim, said his aide, Jean-Luc Dumesnil: "We think it could change Paris's image -- make it quieter, less polluted, with a nicer atmosphere, a better way of life."

But there is a practical side, too, Dumesnil said. A recent study analyzed different trips in the city "with a car, bike, taxi and walking, and the bikes were always the fastest."

"It's faster than the bus or metro, it's good exercise, and it's almost free," said Vianney Paquet, 19, who is studying law in Lyon. Paquet said that he uses the rental bikes four or five times a day and pays 10 euros (about $13) a year, half for an annual membership fee and half for rental credit that he never actually spends because his rides typically last just a few minutes.

Photo: Chris73, Wikipedia.