Vélib, world’s largest bike open use system, was created in Paris in 2007. With 20 thousand bicycles available in almost 1,500 stations (apart from each other no more then 300 m) it is a case of success of green (ecologically right) public transportation.
In its first year 10% of the trips substituted the use of cars, saving US$ 10 million or approximately 10 millions of kilometers in car trips. Definitely, it brought a positive impact in life quality and a reduction of the city’s pollution.
The Vélib has 100 thousand users per day, leading to 1,500 fixings, including maintenance and other services. Unfortunately, destruction and theft (even though only 15 bicycles are stolen per day) increase maintenance costs.
It is still worth it, though! In addition to the savings in the use of cars, one should account for the CO2 emissions and fossil fuel reduction and the revenue created by 200 thousand users that pay an annual tax of US$ 50 for the use of Vélib. The city collects US$ 10 million per year.
In 2010 /2011, Paris intends to launch the Autolib, with the purpose of renting 4 thousand electric cars in 700 stations throughout the city. Seen as competition to Vélib, the plan faces criticism.
On the other side, London has already announced that will adopt the bicycle renting system this summer. Initially, 6,000 bicycles will become available in subway stations and other places. The financing will be by the government, demanding 75 million pounds in new income, on top of publicity in the bicycles. Twelve bikeways will be created from the suburbs to downtown, where there will be zones in which cars should give way to bicycles.
The quest for sustainable devolvement is part of the day-to-day in some cities. Hopefully these positive initiatives will multiple everywhere.Translated by Patricia Ostwald.