14 July, 2008

Happy Bastille Day!

Happy Bastille day. A bit of French news today, The New York Times published another encouraging article about Paris' Vélib bicycle program. I know I've written about this before, but I just think this is such a great program and one that would work in many American cities. I was just chatting about it with, legendary bike importer, Mel Pinto, who recently returned from Paris. He was amazed at the success and the general resurgence in biking in France. He mentioned that a friend who was about to sell his bike related business in France had reconsidered do to the recent boom.

Washington DC is trying to start a similar scheme. Here's an article from USA Today. The recent rise in gas prices is obviously encouraging city bike use. In fact, I think we're seeing a new paradigm, perhaps this is the start of the slow death of the suburbs?

As for VO news, I've just heard that several big shipments are on the way. We'll have Velo Orange saddles, VO bottom brackets, VO track pedals, Grand Cru brakes and a bunch of other components arriving over the next couple of weeks. It seems that several factories finished our production runs in the same week. And I'm told that several other components will be finished next week or the week after. I'm sure glad that we have that big new warehouse.


K Matthias said...

There was an article in Le Monde about the Velib program last Sunday/Monday edition. They mentioned good and bad points about the program. One thing I found striking is that enough people are using them that the city is considering adding paths and other bikeways to keep the bikes off of the roads in order to protect people and reduce congestion caused by the bikes using the bus lanes. They mention 2-3% of trips in Paris are now by bike, which if you consider the scale of the Parisien area, is pretty impressive. The hope is that with the RATP working to better integrate with Velib that this will grow even more.

There were other challenges mentioned, including that the percentage of Velib cyclists who wear helmets is extremely low and that only 29% of cyclists (in general) respect red lights. In our own cycling community we have some work to do.

But it's an impressive program that I also hope serves as a model for other cities.... Portland?!

Anonymous said...

The article is fairly positive.

Theft rate was a little disappointing. Miami, San Antonio, and San Diego would probably might arguably have similar problems, as they are closer to 3rd World countries where a big clunker rental bike is nevertheless salable to 3rd parties. I don't think New York, Washington DC or other Northern and Midwestern metropolitan areas have much to worry about.

Maybe not the death of all suburbia, but probably the end of exurbia and careless sprawl. We can only hope.

Anonymous said...

I live in Paris and the Velib is a GREAT system.

I cycle every single day in central Paris and the Velib's have made it much better for cyclists in general to get around without being hassled by car and motor cycle drivers. We have new bike lanes being created which make the suburbs and therefore the greener parts of Paris more accessible.

We have so little space in Paris that we seriously need to do away with as many cars as possible. 1 in 10 cars is just looking for a place to park and 80% of cars rolling are not Parisian (according to TV report).

Velib is one of the best things to happen to Paris. Come visit and see Paris by night on bicycle.

Happy Bastille day everyone.

Anonymous said...

Here's a link to the Velib' article in Le Monde:


Have traveled to Paris quite a bit, but not since the program started. Am eager to give it a try.


nordic_68 said...

We enjoyed pedaling in Paris in 2003 when we were there to see the Tour. Allowing only buses and bikes in the transit lane is brilliant. Although there was a lot of traffic, we rarely felt at risk. Looking forward to the day when US cities (and citizens) open their minds to the possibilities.

Meanwhile motorists continue to spill the blood of cyclists here in Los Angeles...

nordic_68 said...

Back again, commenting on the wonderful Velib program. Three cyclists died in a year of 27.5 million Velib 'trips' averaging 120,000 trips per day. Deaths are always regrettable, but those three deaths are statistically insignificant. Not a reason to shy from the program or change its nature.

And about helmets - it's a US phenomenon due to the reckless, aggressive nature of our motorists. Take a look at the Copenhagen Cycle Chic blog and you'll begin to see just how small a role helmets play in cities properly designed for and supporting cyclists.

Forget the 'eco' approach. Just show prospective cities the $30+ million in profit earned by the city of Paris in the first year. Money talks!

Carlos Ballester said...

I must respond to the comment regarding San Diego, San Antonio and Miami having a possible theft problem with a Velib type program.Firstly these cities are not close to third world countries as cited,most third world countries are in East Africa and the middle east.San Diego and San Antonio have large populations of Latinos many of which have roots in Mexico, a country that is NOT a third world country.Miami has a large Cuban community,Cuba does appear in some lists of third world countries because of civil rights problems not because of bicycle theft tendencies.The Latino communities of these cities are well established and not a specific threat to "big clunker rental bikes".Secondly northern and midwestern cities do "have much to worry about" ,New York,Philadelphia,Boston and Chicago lead the country year after year in bicycle thefts according to Kryptonite.My liberal ideals and humanist tendencies would never lay blame on some unnamed "3rd world country"as causing the bicycle theft problems in these cities.