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Paris Embraces Plan to Become City of Bikes

9:45 AM EDT on March 26, 2007

The Velo'v public bicycle system in Lyon, France. By the end of 2007 the city of Paris will have 1,450 bike stations offering 20,000 bicycles.

The Washington Post reports:

On July 15, the day after Bastille Day, Parisians will wake up to discover thousands of low-cost rental bikes at hundreds of high-techbicycle stations scattered throughout the city, an ambitious program to cut traffic, reduce pollution, improve parking and enhance the city's image as a greener, quieter, more relaxed place.

The program was meant "not just to modify the equilibrium between themodes of transportation and reduce air pollution, but also to modifythe image of the city and to have a city where humans occupy a largerspace."

The Socialist mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe, has thesame aim, said his aide, Jean-Luc Dumesnil: "We think it could changeParis's image -- make it quieter, less polluted, with a niceratmosphere, a better way of life."

Butthere is a practical side, too, Dumesnil said. A recent study analyzeddifferent trips in the city "with a car, bike, taxi and walking, andthe bikes were always the fastest."

"It'sfaster than the bus or metro, it's good exercise, and it's almostfree," said Vianney Paquet, 19, who is studying law in Lyon. Paquetsaid that he uses the rental bikes four or five times a day and pays 10euros (about $13) a year, half for an annual membership fee and halffor rental credit that he never actually spends because his ridestypically last just a few minutes.

Photo: Chris73, Wikipedia.

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