Friday, November 23, 2007

Transit strike a test for Paris rental bikes

I'm among those who've raved about the rental bikes that became available in Paris earlier this year. The system is getting a trial by fire during France's current transportation strike.
The very name Vélib, which fuses the word vélo(bike) with liberté, became suspect this week, as record numbers of commuters fought over limited bikes and cycle stands. Le Figaro reported Tuesday that Vélib' rentals in Paris had almost doubled during the strikes, rising from an average of 90,000 bike hires a day to almost 175,000.
says the Details in the International Herald Tribune.

1 comment:

Michael Wise said...

I'm here in Paris. I arrived on the first day of the strike (talk about timing!). Luckily for me I brought my own bike. It has been crazy here: streets are chock full of cars, motorcycles, and bicycles.

At first I thought I was witnessing a rabid acceptance of the Velib program: everyone was using those bikes; they were everywhere. Slowly I came to realize that it was just a reaction to the trains being shut down by the strike. It was more like a natural disaster, with people who've relied on a form of transportation suddenly need to find something else, like when the bay bridge collapsed and thousands of commuters needed to find new routes into the city. It took me a couple of days to catch on because there's not much news in English, and where I would normally be using the Metro to get around, I didn't need to because I had my own bike, so I didn't realize the strike was still on.

That being said, there's still some reason to be excited. It has been very cold on a couple of days, but that did not seem to deter anyone. There have also been ladies wearing fine clothes out on bikes, and I've seen lots of old bikes get pressed back into service.

Also, one of the sources listed in the article is the newspaper Le Figaro, which is relatively conservative, and would likely go out of their way to discredit Velib and the strikers both.

(Cross-posted from a Thunderhead discussion.)