Bikes for rent go down a storm in Paris
After the launch of le vélo on 15th July 2007, a day after the French Revolution anniversary, millions of Parisians made the roads theirs 24/7 with 10,648 rentable bikes, or vélos.
By January, some 1,400 rent stations and 20,600 bikes are scheduled to be in place and you will never be more than 900 feet from a set of cheap wheels.
The brand new grey 25kg bikes are everywhere. So far, none of these shiny bikes have been stolen and on average each bike has been used an amazing 30 times a day. Only three have been graffiti-ed and the only bike station to stand empty is on top of Montmartre, at the bottom however the bikes are unused. One bike was found 30 miles away in a rough estate and another was found in Giverny.
The vélib scheme has crowned Paris as the capital of freedom cycling. The Dutch attempted a similar scheme, but not on this scale, back in 1964. Unfortunately it was not a success as almost all of the bikes were either stolen or burnt.
View write up on 4 July
Website for le vélib (French language only)