LOW COST SCHEME COSTLY
The Sydney Morning Herald reckons Paris's Velib low-cost bicycle rental scheme is "a huge success". Brigid Delaney's gushing report notes a few minor problems while totally ignoring the scheme's financial reality:
A popular bicycle rental scheme in Paris that has transformed travel in the city has run into problems just 18 months after its successful launch.Also, the bikes tend to accumulate at downhill collection points from which they must be redistributed. Now since it's doubtful Velib employees are riding the bikes back uphill it's reasonable to assume the machines are trucked to where they're needed. Sort of makes the whole thing silly, now don't it?
Over half the original fleet of 15,000 specially made bicycles have disappeared, presumed stolen.
They have been used 42 million times since their introduction but vandalism and theft are taking their toll.
The company which runs the scheme, JCDecaux, says it can no longer afford to operate the city-wide network.
Since the scheme's launch, nearly all the original bicycles have been replaced at a cost of 400 euros ($519, £351) each.
The Velib bikes - the name is a contraction of velo (cycle) and liberte (freedom) - have also fallen victim to a craze known as "velib extreme".
Various videos have appeared on YouTube showing riders taking the bikes down the steps in Montmartre, into metro stations and being tested on BMX courses.