Vélib’ on the Skids
If you’ve been following the Parisian saga that is Vélib’, then you won’t be terribly surprised to learn that 80 percent of the initial 20,600 bicycles have been stolen or damaged (according to a recent article in the New York Times).
The bikes cost approximately $3,500* each, which (unless my math is terribly wrong) means that the well intended French have incurred losses of roughly $50 million dollars on the project. The primary funder, JCDecaux, initially invested $140 million in the project, and plans to continue despite the setbacks. Its 10-year contract with the city of Paris states that for $5.5 million a year, it can put up 1,628 billboards, which it in turn will rent for a profit.
On the other hand, Urban Velo contributor Andy Singer points out, “Vandalism is hard to avoid with most programs. Overall, based on the millions of bike trips taken by Parisians, Vélib’ has been a qualified success—at least according to the “alternative” view.”
But he adds, “If everyone in the world was given a decent bike at birth, there’d be no need to steal them!”
Read the NYT article at www.nytimes.com.
*The NYT issued the following correction:
An article on Saturday about the Paris public bicycle rental system’s problems with theft and vandalism referred imprecisely to the cost of the specially designed bikes. While each bike costs about $3,500 at current exchange rates when the system’s startup and maintenance expenses are included, the manufacturing cost of each bike is about $1,050.