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Vélib’, the new cycle rental programme in Paris, has been shortlisted for a British Guild of Travel Writers Overseas Tourism Award and is through to the final round of voting by members of the Guild. The Award will be announced at the Guild’s annual dinner at London’s Savoy Hotel on Sunday 11th November.
The scheme - it stands for velo and liberation, ie bicycle freedom - was proposed by BGTW member Anthony Lambert.
In praise of the scheme, and cycling in general, Lambert said:
“Is there any better way to explore a city than by bike? You see more than you do when walking because you’re looking ahead instead of down in case of you know what. You can cover the ground more quickly in boring bits, never feel disinclined to stop to look at something interesting, and you work up a healthy appetite for dinner. It saves going to the hotel gym, causes no pollution – and now in Paris it’s virtually free.
“In July the city set up 750 stations and there’ll be 1500 by the end of the year, with 20,600 bikes. Numbers are particularly dense around Metro and railway stations. Computer terminals at Velib stations have a choice of 8 languages and you can have a one- or seven-day subscription, costing just €1 or 5, using your credit card. You choose a bike from those on the screen and away you go. The first half hour is free so you can cycle, park at another bike station, and then take another bike. It’s €1 for the first additional half hour and rises more steeply after the third half hour. This encourages a high turnover of bikes, and avoids competing with bike hire companies who hire for longer periods. Paris has 371km of bike path and more are being
“The scheme has already been a huge success. Winning this award would send a signal to other cities that this is the way to go.”
Here’s a video of how the scheme operates:
And here’s a video - called Velib Freeride - which shows the bikes being ridden down steps and in a BMX park. The on-board dynamos look trés chic in the night-time scenes:
By the end of August the 10,000 bikes were sharing 60 000 rentals per day, which means each bike is being rented in average six times a day, a huge success for the scheme.
The Vélib’ bikes are provided FOC to Paris by SOMUPI, a firm owned by JCDecaux, the outdoor advertising agency. In return for the bikes, Paris gives JCDecaux beaucoup advertising slots around the city. Due to the success of the scheme other cities around the world, including London, want to get on board.
The other nominations in the BGTW’s ‘Globe’ category are Historic Jamestowne and the Cancun Regeneratikon project. Quickrelease.tv editor Carlton Reid is a member of the British Guild of Travel Writers. Guess which scheme he just voted for?