This piece in of my favorite newspapers, The Guardian, caught my eye:
The City of Light wants to soon become a city of bicycles. Paris City Hall announced it has selected French outdoor advertising firm JCDecaux SA to operate a new free bicycle service in the capital.
Joining other European cities like the Dutch capital, Amsterdam, Paris wants to make thousands of bikes available for free to commuters, strollers and tourists - in part to help cut down on pollution.
JCDecaux's Somupi unit is to have some 14,100 bikes deployed in the capital by this summer.Other European cities including Lyon, Brussels, Helsinki, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Berlin also operate what they call "white bicycle" (or sometimes "yellow" bicycle) programs. Here in the States they are often termed "community bike programs".
We lived just outside the waterfront village of Galesville in Maryland for 11 years where the few hundred residents operated a simple community bike program. Bikes were donated or bought cheaply at yard sales, and a big sign declaring them to be community bikes was affixed to each one. Whenever you needed a bike you simply got on one and rode away. When you'd finished your errand you left the bike someplace conspicuous for someone else to use. The few cyclists in town would occasionally perform a bit of maintenance and that's all there was to it.
Here is a list of other US communities that operate free bike programs. The project seems particularly well organized in Austin. Not all such programs are successful though, sometimes theft or vandalism are a problem. Nonetheless they have been proven to work, and work well.
The White bikes program has to be one of the best ideas to come along in decades. It saves gas, cuts down on pollution, is inexpensive, and improves the lives of everyone involved. Why aren't more local governments starting such programs?
BTW, I love those red fenders.