Bicycle Diaries: Vélo-buse

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Paris Vélib on
the Highway to Hell

After 18 months, the alternative transport crowd in Paris has learned a painful lesson that every car rental company in the world has known for years. A lot of folks are hard on their rentals. Even I in my younger years as a cager enjoyed nothing more that grinding my rental's gears or taking it off-road for a little four-wheelin'. And so it goes with this relatively new bike rental scheme. Of its 20,000 bikes, 11,600 have been vandalized. That means 1,500 daily repairs. But that's not the worst of it; another 7,800 are missing with a hefty replacement cost of 400 Euros (around $500) per bike.

What the hell is going on in The City of Lights? It appears that les mecs, its homegrown bike hipsters, have been doing a little grinding and two-wheelin' of their own. Those crazy, crazy kids are bumping down stairs, rolling handrails, and generally pushing their rentals to the breaking point. It's appropriately called Vélib extreme.

So what do you do? Applaud France's vibrant youth culture or bemoan all the young whippersnappers who are gleefully de-greening les boulevards???

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Blogger Cezar said...

What do you do?

You charge the renters who had the stolen bike out last the cost of the bike. You give them sturdy locks and make the instructions on how to lock up easy. Most are parked at another station anyhow, which makes the stolen from a bike rack point moot.

You make it easy to report that a bike is broken, and the last person to take out the bike pays. Many times it's easy to tell a wear and tear malfunction from someone beating the crap out of the bike.

It's not nice, and some people will be innocent, but with a good thought out system in place they could keep theft and vandalism to a minimum

12/2/09 09:28  

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