Paris has finally unveiled its highly anticipated bicycle sharing program, sending a global message that it’s serious about reducing emissions and embracing sustainable urban transportation. Over 10,000 bikes are now available for rent at over 750 stations, with plans to double the fleet to 20,000 by years end.
Dubbed “Velib” (a play on words - Velo = bike & liberte = freedom), the system works like this:

A local or tourist who is interested in renting a bike goes to a high-tech docking station, swipes a credit or debit card at a meter (translated into eight languages), and a bike is yours for a nominal fee. A one-day pass costs only 1 Euro ($1.38), a weekly pass 5 Euros ($6.90), and a yearly pass only 29 Euros ($40.00). There are no surcharges, taxes, or other fees, so long as the bike is returned within 30 minutes. Over 30 minutes, you would be charged an incremental “late fee”, which is designed to facilitate high turnover and ensure that bikes will be available for rent at each station. If you want to take out another bike after 30 minutes, go right ahead - for convenience, bikes can be returned to any of the docking stations, which are located an average of only 300 yards apart.

“This is about revolutionizing urban culture…for a long time cars were associated with freedom of movement and flexibility. What we want to show people is that in many ways bicycles fulfill this role much more today.”

~ Pierre Aidenbaum, Mayor of Paris’s Third District

According to the New York Times, early indications point toward success for Velib. Even before a single docking station was open, some 13,000 people had already purchased yearly subscriptions online.

Paris is definitely moving in the right direction. Bicycle-sharing on this scale is absolutely one of the most important urban planning developments to come along in sometime. There’s no reason why Miami can’t follow Paris’ lead.

In fact, I challenge the City of Miami Beach, which I believe to be the most appropriate place for bike-sharing in South Florida, to strongly consider implementing its own version of Velib. It has the density and compactness that will allow this sort of program to thrive. It would be great for tourists, who no longer would feel obliged to rent cars. It would be great for locals, whom besides benefiting directly from the service, would benefit tremendously from fewer cars and VMT (Vehicle Miles Traveled) in their communities. It’s even more logical when you consider that Miami Beach lacks (unfathomably) quality transit.

Once the program manifests success on the beach, it could set a precedent for cycling/transportation policy elsewhere in Greater Miami. I mean, after all, Miami should be a national (and global) leader in cycling, given its phenomenal assets - climate and ecology.

The little improvements are nice, but it’s time to step up and create cycling initiatives that will revolutionize urban transportation in Miami and South Florida.

Photos courtesy of Le Fil’s & austinevan’s flickr accounts

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Related posts:

  1. Beijing Aims to One-Up Paris
  2. Velib Ridership Exceeds 7.5 Million in First 12 Weeks
  3. Bike-Sharing: Revealed
  4. Rome Embraces Bike Sharing
  5. London to Invest $1 Billion in Cycling

6 Responses to Paris Sets a Global Precedent for Urban Transportation Policy

  1. Chris Mora says:

    Friggin Awesome!

    Wow, and the bikes look pretty high tech too. Seriously impressive.

    My next goal is to find a job closer to home! Summer heat and humidity isn’t too friendly to iron clothes.

  2. Anonymous says:

    This is pretty amazing.

  3. Anonymous says:

    just got back from Paris, it’s indeed a success, the bikes are VERY light and high tech at the same time.
    instead of bashing the french (who love us by the way, they just hate our president) let’s try to take their ideas!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Lest we forget that Paris doesn’t have the notorious Florida humidity, not to mention daily thundershowers for a good part of the season. Biking will never be as viable of an alternative to automobiles in this part of the country. Biking serves a niche but the majority of the general public won’t use it for much other than recreational purposes. Miami needs to focus its attention on mass transportation- rail expansion, energy efficient buses and the likes.

  5. Ryan says:

    Energy efficiency is practically synonymous with cycling. Mass transit is very important, and we support it’s expansion in Miami/South Florida 150%. However, cycling is yet considerably more sustainable, and much cheaper than mass transit expansion.

    The climate-issue regarding cycling conditions in South Florida is a total cop-out. For at least six months of the year, there aren’t any better places on Earth to cycle than Miami. The summer heat and humidity can obviously be intense, but Miami again benefits from flat topography, which allows for non-strenuous cycling conditions. Plus, Miami doesn’t have to worry about long, cold, wet winters like other world-class cycling cities do (Copenhagen, Paris, Amsterdam, etc).

    The important thing to understand is that cycling and mass transit are both apart of a larger, sustainable system of urban mobility. The two work hand-in-hand, and therefore must both be implemented with equal community support.

  6. Anonymous says:

    If you make all new office construction have showers cycling becomes much more likely.

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