The Revolutionary Power of Bikes in Paris

Posted by: Heather Green on June 4, 2008

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(Photos from zheem)

Paris is known for revolutions. And right now, I have never seen anything as revolutionary as Velib’, their system of bikes.

It truly is a transit system unto itself. And the most amazing thing is how it has transformed Paris.

When I lived there 15 years ago, riding a bike was taking your life into your hands..and throwing it away. For such a compact city, it was impossible to bike there.

Now, it’s impossible not to. With Velib, you basically borrow a bike for free for 1/2 hour. You register with the system, handing over a credit card number. If you keep it longer, you’re automatically charged a minimal price. And if you keep the bike, you’re debited 150 euros.

But what makes it easy to simply have a bike for 1/2 hour is the number of stations and bikes there are around the city. There are 20,000 bikes and I believe 1,500 stations. You simply flit from one station to another as you run errands, take a trip to a museum, or simply glide along the quais.

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But what are bikes without bike paths? And Paris now has plenty of those, everywhere, on all the streets, in the big boulevards, and along the quais.

Amsterdam is an amazing city for bikes. But Paris gives you a coup de coeur.

Reader Comments

Jonathan chelseagreen.com

June 6, 2008 8:47 AM

So much good news these days, especially on the enviro/business/economics front, is liable to caveats and twists of nuance. This seems about as likely as anything to be simply and purely a good news situation. Thanks, a great start to the day!

melanie brooks

June 25, 2008 2:57 PM

This would be a great program for cities in the U.S. -- but do you think people would go for it? I think that it could work in NYC if it was more safe to ride your bike in the city without getting hit by a cab or bus. Personally, I think American's are too lazy...

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BusinessWeek correspondents John Carey and Mark Scott, cover the green scene, keeping on top of the business aspects of energy, the environment and climate change, as well as the technologies, policies, markets and people that are shaping how the earth's resources will be used in the century ahead.

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