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???