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Reality Proves a Setback for Velib Cheap Bike Program in Paris

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Reality Proves a Setback for Velib Cheap Bike Program in Paris

Old 10-30-09, 03:39 PM
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Losligato
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Reality Proves a Setback for Velib Cheap Bike Program in Paris

Very sad indeed.

NY Times article about the Paris bike rental program.....

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/31/wo...1bikes.html?hp

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Old 10-30-09, 03:47 PM
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That's really too bad. A program like that has such great potential.
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Old 10-30-09, 03:59 PM
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Pretty sad...no good deed goes unpunished.
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Old 10-30-09, 04:09 PM
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Yeah, that's the old news, and not even all of it. Check out: http://tinyurl.com/ak98y4 I know I have also seen an article about the even more recent expansion of the system, adding bikes and drop off stations in further outlying areas, but I don't seem to be able to find it at the moment. The only sadness here is the need of journalists to create a negative story for their own purposes.
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Old 10-30-09, 04:34 PM
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Ahhh...I see, now. But why would the bbc run such a story?? I mean isn't there talk of starting up such a system in London before the 2012 Olympics? It seems like I read that somewhere...
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Old 10-30-09, 04:39 PM
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Never mind...I'll answer my own question...Ratings. Duh.
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Old 10-30-09, 08:34 PM
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$3,500 each? They certainly did miscalculate. Given the repair and replacement costs due to vandalism and theft, they ought to seriously consider using inexpensive X-Mart class bikes as their sustained long term utility wouldn't be a factor.

.
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Old 10-31-09, 01:04 AM
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*sigh*...people.
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Old 10-31-09, 06:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Fast Cloud View Post
Never mind...I'll answer my own question...Ratings. Duh.
I guess in your reality they shoot messengers?
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Old 10-31-09, 07:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Fast Cloud View Post
But why would the bbc run such a story?
BBC doesn't need "ratings" for a non-commercial internet site.

The real question is why JC Decaux is so enthusiastic about letting the media know its project has been a disaster:

The BBC's portrayal of a mortal threat, they say, is best understood as a negotiating ploy on the part of JCDecaux. (Note that the JCDecaux representative is the only source quoted in that story.)

"Decaux is using media sensationalism in order to obtain more money from the city of Paris," said Denis Baupin, who as Deputy Mayor for Transportation oversaw the Vélib launch in the summer of 2007.

The basic structure of the Vélib contract works like this. JCDecaux runs the whole system in exchange for the rights to 1,600 outdoor displays, turning its profit from selling that ad space. The city of Paris keeps the revenue from Vélib user fees, so it can claim to provide the service at no taxpayer expense. Now, with the full Paris network of 20,600 bicycles and 1,451 stations completed, penalties for inadequate maintenance are in the process of taking effect. Hence the hue and cry from JCDecaux.
http://www.streetsblog.org/2009/02/1...y-exaggerated/
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Old 11-01-09, 08:37 AM
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I lived in Lyon in 2005-6, when a similar scheme, Vélo'v, was being implemented. It was interesting to see the rise, fall, and rise of the scheme. At first, everything was great. Then it seemed that the bikes were always damaged, the software that controlled the docking stations was buggy, and it was almost impossible to get a working bike. Then they upgraded the bikes, increased the repair schedule, and fixed the software, and everything was great again.
Maybe it worked better in Lyon because there is less of the inner city/suburban divide, no major immigrant slums etc. It really was a brilliant system, that cost virtually nothing. In fact, for a 5€ annual fee, you could hire a bike for up to an hour for nothing...then return it and hire another one for up to an hour, etc.
I can't imagine wanting to steal one of those bikes though. They're incredibly heavy, and handle badly due to all the electronics being in the handlebars. They only have three gears, and just aren't built for anything other than short inner city trips on smooth roads. Of course, I did the same thing as the vandals in the newspaper article - riding down stairs, off kerbs, skidding etc. It was fun!

I think everyone is reading too much into the newspaper article. All it's saying is there are problems that are expensive. It's not like they're canning the program or anything.

Also, for anyone thinking $3500 is not realistic for one of those bikes...well, you should see them. The term "industrial strength" doesn't do it justice. They're incredibly strong, have some fancy electronics in them, are all custom components etc. A "normal" bike wouldn't last more than a week.
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Old 11-01-09, 08:45 AM
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The joke is how much $$ goes to fund mass transit. There's not a system in the world that pays for itself only with ridership fees. All of them need money from the general fund. So even if you ride your bike, chances are you're still helping pay for mass transit.
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Old 11-01-09, 11:55 AM
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Where would a rental bike system work? Someplace with a population of middle- to upper-middle class people in their 30s or older. Young people and people of limited means are much more likely to vandalize or steal the bikes. But in Paris? If they want to keep the program, they will need to budget for the vandalism.
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Old 11-01-09, 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by IronMac View Post
I guess in your reality they shoot messengers?
Some messengers deserve it.
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Old 11-01-09, 03:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Fast Cloud View Post
Some messengers deserve it.
THIS. IS. SPARTA!

Seriously though... I don't see this as a failure of the program. They certainly miscalculated how much vandalism and theft would happen, but they seem undeterred... and I commend them for that. Very cool idea, and I hope it spreads.

As for the price of the bikes, at first I was shocked... but then I thought about what kind of bike could stand up to this kind of abuse without a ton of extra maintenance... and yeah... it would cost a lot more than your average bike.

I think the bikes would have held up just fine if people were merely abusing them, but active vandalism is a bit different. No bike would last long with people seriously pounding it on purpose.
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Old 11-01-09, 03:55 PM
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Originally Posted by stevage View Post
for anyone thinking $3500 is not realistic for one of those bikes...
I'm also interested in this $3500 figure that the NY Times comes up with (in the context of an article practically written by JC Decaux), because the BBC article says that the bikes cost 400 Euro and Streets blog says the precise cost of replacing one Vélib bicycle remains unknown to the public.

And meanwhile, for the stolen bikes (which btw JC D manages to get a couple of not-so-subtle anti-immigrant digs in about), surely there are only three options: they're stolen after renting, in which case the cardholder should just get charged; they're stolen from the racks, then the rack/lock mechanism is inadequate; or they're stolen while a renter is actually riding them, which seems unlikely - that's a lot of robberies for a heavy, ugly, hard-to-fence bike when you might as well just steal a Vespa for the same trouble.

What am I missing here?

Last edited by whatsmyname; 11-01-09 at 04:00 PM.
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