Launched in July 2007 vélib, a public bicycle rental programme has revolutionized public transport in the city and has saved 10 million km in car trips.
The fleet of over 20,000 chic, grey bikes can be found at any one of the 1,450 terminals scattered every 300 metres throughout the city centre. Each vélib station, open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, is equipped with an automatic rental terminal and spots for dozens of bicycles.The idea is simple commuters pick up the bike from one automated stand and drop it at another close to their destination.
Although thieves have made off with approximately 3000 of the free bikes, the programme is hailed as a success and has doubled the number of bikes in just over a year. It has also inspired cities in Austria and Spain to create similar initiatives.
Subscriptions to the programme cost €1/day, €5/week or €29 for an annual pass. The first half-hour of every trip is free with each additional half-hour debited from the riders bank account –the second half-hour is €1, the third €2 and each additional half-hour is €4.
Each bike is used about seven times a day and with the average journey only 18 minutes, making the majority of rides free. Paris’s extensive system of cycling lanes, about 371 kms, has given riders a safe and inexpensive way around the city.
Seen by many Parisians as an extension of the public transportation system, Paris Vélib, has also been a good source of revenue for the city amounting to approximately € 20 million in its first year.
Encouraging green and healthy travel Paris Vélib is also a cheap way to travel around the ‘City of Lights’.