Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Velib Program

Sustainability-minded readers may be interested in the Velib program here in Paris. The city has set up a more-or-less free bike rental program. There are racks all over the city (and I do mean all over--you're never more than a block from one) at which you can check out a bike. According to the official French tourism site, there are over 20,000 bikes available in almost 1500 locations.

It's 1 Euro for a day pass and you can take out a bike for a half hour for free. Beyond that half hour, you pay a Euro or two for each additional half hour. However, you can take unlimited half hour trips in a day for the 1 Euro pass. There are also weekly and monthly passes.

The bikes look like they're pretty decent, and they appear to be kept in good working order. I've seen Velib mechanics working on bikes in the racks. (I've also read somewhere, however, that the costs of maintaining the program are making it, well, not very sustainable.)

Since you can take out and return a Velib from any rack, and the bikes are actually pretty nice, you see all sorts of people actually using them. It's not uncommon to see commuters in suit and tie riding them. It's a great program for commuting, really, since you can take it one way and the metro train the other if the weather is not good.

Now, surviving the Paris traffic on a Velib bike is a different issue of sustainability...

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