How Happy Are Parisians With Vélib?


The latest figures from the Paris Vélib bike sharing program are in. User stats and survey results are posted on the official web site, but for those who don’t parlez Français, here’s a summary:

  • Rides to date: 20 million
  • Average trips/day: 70,000
  • Average trip time: 18 minutes
  • 190,000 annual pass holders
  • 42% of users are females
  • 1/3 of users come from outside the central city
  • 17% of users are more than 46 years old
  • 94% of users like it (of which 20% like it a lot)
  • 46% are satisfied with stations (available bikes, parking slots)

Vélib-style bike rentals come to the U.S. this month in Washington, D.C.

After the jump, for you French speakers, Parisians talk about the program — one of many ways the city is beating traffic

  • gecko

    Can’t remember liking the hear french so much!

  • Incredible figures! We need programs like this in every American city!

    Unfortunately, our country still spends most of its money expanding or building new highways (even as existing roads crumble), and less than 1% on bicycle or pedestrian projects.

  • Dave H.

    Can’t remember the French liking anything so much.

  • Larry Littlefield

    You’ll see similar programs in DC, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Denver — and everywhere else before you’ll see them here.

    First, the union issues would have to be settled. Then the political contributions. The contracts would have to be with the right firms. The EIS would have to be done, and the public hearings.

    And, since that would make the whole thing vastly more expensive, the city would have to wait for the next fiscal boom to have the money to subsidize to offset all the imposed costs.

    And even after all that, Albany might turn it down.

  • Gwin

    I think Velib is great and works really well in Paris (I tried it myself when there last month), but at the same time it was clear that a lot of the users were completely unfamiliar with bike safety/consideration for other bikers, or really any sort of etiquette. I witnessed a lot of unsure riding and unsafe maneuvers.

    In NYC, though, it’s hard enough having to deal with “fair-weather bikers” and their oblivious headphone-wearing stupidity … I imagine that a bike rental program would probably engender more of that here.

    That being said, I still think it would be a great program — IF people were to receive some basic bike education first, although I have no idea how that could happen.

  • Paris has provided an astounding number of bikes and bike stations. The Velib experience also shows there are issues with uneven distribution of bikes and parking slots. Many more Parisians ride the bikes in the morning but use other means to get home, so trucks must re-distribute bikes in residential areas at night. I have yet to see a US system that takes these variables into account.


  • Phil Allsopp

    I’ve seen the Paris Velib system up close (but sadly not yet ridden) on a very short business trip recently. They’ve done it in style and in very large numbers. The bikes and their locking stations are very well designed and “look the part” as far as a piece of urban transit share ware. The Paris bikes are a world apart from photographs I’ve seen of the Philadelphia bikes that are equipped with 1960-era tire friction dynamos that do a great job as a third brake.

    I’m wondering when this country will get its head straight about the importance of high quality, simple industrial design in products like bikes, trains, buses an the like. If Apple can do it, why not manufacturers of other products we use??

  • Phil, do pick one up next time! You can use an American credit card. The only part I thought was tricky is that is says to select a bike and press next; what is means is to get the number for a bike station with a working bike, which you can enter on the next screen. I kept going back and forth to the bikes, looking for a button to push there. (With a long-term “navigo” card you can unlock right from the bike.) Anyway they still haven’t billed my card for the 1 € so I guess I got a free ride.


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