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Editorial, Paris, France

Wednesday 04 Jul 2007

Paris revolution

Editorial by WAN Editorial in Paris, France
Editorial by WAN Editorial in Paris, France Editorial by WAN Editorial in Paris, France
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New transport initiative could make Paris the next Amsterdam 

A far reaching initiative to free up the French capital’s streets by providing thousands of pay-as-you-go bicycles is due to be launched on the 15th July. The radical scheme, if successful could set the mould for future urban transport.

Amsterdam has long been associated with a culture of urban cycling and the benefits to health, pollution, congestion are all obvious but to implement a project of this scale of change is unique.

The scheme called Vélib, an adjunct of Velo, French for speed, and Lib… for freedom will flood the capital’s streets with some 20,600 bikes in 1451 locations by the end of the year. To access the bikes, riders can select a one-day card for 1 euro, a weekly card for 5 euros or an annual card for 29 euros. After the purchase of an access card, riding for the first half-hour is free.

Each Vélib parking station will be equipped with muni-meters to purchase one and 7-day passes and to pay any additional charges once the bike is dropped off. The Vélib meters will also provide information on other station locations.

The city of Paris has over 371 km (230 miles) of dedicated cycling lanes.

The irony of this initiative came into sharp focus this week as classic cars were arriving in the capital from China on the last leg of the Peking-Paris rally. Beijing has long standing links with Paris but the Chinese capital has, over the last decade or so, back-pedalled on the green initiative and taken a different course. Its new found wealth has seen most of its “9 million bicycles” ditched in favour of four wheels. This unprecedented growth in traffic has overloaded the road network leading to gridlock and massive pollution issues. Watch this space....

For more information visit: (French language only)

We have been informed by WAN reader Amund Gulden that Norway's capital, Oslo implemented a similar scheme with some 80 stations about three years ago and it has been operating sucessfully since.

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