Bicycle Rental Services

Commute by Bike reader Jerome pointed out the opportunity available in some cities in France for bicycle rental services.

Here’s an excerpt from the Wikipedia page:

Velo’v is bicycle rental service run by the city of Lyon, France, in conjunction with the advertising company JCDecaux. The relationship with JCDecaux allows the city to provide the service on a cost neutral basis for the city, and at very low cost to users, in return for providing exclusive advertising access on bus shelters and the like. The primary aim is to reduce vehicle traffic within the city. The scheme also aims to reduce pollution, create a convivial atmosphere within the city, and encourage the health benefits of increased activity.

The service began on the 19th of May 2005 and now provides over 2000 bicyles available from over 157 stations situated around the cities of Lyon and Villeurbanne. The bicycles can be returned to any other station. Access is via a subscription system in which a card is purchased online or at a station giving the user an account and a PIN with which they access bicycles through a terminals situated at the bicycle stations.

And the article on announcing the expansion to Paris:

Outdoor advertising firm JCDecaux has won the contract to supply Paris with bikes for a new and free city-wide bicycle hire service. The company already operates Cyclocity pay-per-ride cycle hire schemes in Lyon and Brussels

Why isn’t this happening across the US? This seems like a viable service that won’t cost the tax payers any extra and will promote all the benefits of bicycle commuting.

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0 thoughts on “Bicycle Rental Services”

  1. _Russ_ says:

    Why isn’t it happening???.. Many reasons. Everyone here drives to work, drives to school, drives around the corner to get a donut. why would they rent a bicycle when they can just get in their car and drive. Americans haven’t been forced to used alternative transportation, once that happens then renting a bicycle will be an option.

  2. JiMCi says:

    A few notes about the Lyon, France, Velo’V project, as published in the Nouvel Observateur earlier this week:
    ” How does it work? You buy either a weekly ( $1.30) or yearly ($6.50) pass, pick up a bike at a station, ride, and drop it at another station near your destination (the maximum distance between stations is 1,000 feet). The first half-hour is free. With a yearly pass, the next hour is 0.6.¢. For longer rides, the rate is $1.30 per hour. About 95% of rentals are for less than 30 minutes and therefore free. Rates are higher for weekly passes.
    ” The project started 18 months ago with 2,000 bicycles available from over 157 stations, it will increase from 3,000 bikes and 250 next summer to 4,000 bikes and 350 stations in 2008.
    ” Bikes are sometimes used by up to 15 riders on the same day.
    ” Total mileage ridden in 18 months: 10 millions miles.
    ” Bicycle use grew by 33% from 2004 to 2005 and by 44% from 2005 to 2006.
    ” Downtown traffic used to increase by 3 to 5% per year but have stopped growing since the start of the project.
    ” Similar systems are found in Vienna (Austria), Brussels (Belgium) and Aix-en-Provence, Marseilles and Rennes (France). Paris has recently awarded a contract for a similar system, to start this summer.

    These projects are implemented in downtown areas. They are intended to create new possibilities for people who do not own or want to own (and maintain) bikes. Most users either live downtown or commute from suburbs by train, tramway, metro or bus and use these bikes for the last leg of their trip.

    This is all nice, but the big question here is could similar projects be adapted to the North American way of life???

  3. Fritz says:

    Several U.S. cities have a free “Yellow Bikes” or “Blue Bikes” program. The Blue Bikes programs tend to be along recreational trails, while the Yellow Bikes programs tend to be for transportational use.

    These programs *do* cost money — money to get, replace, track and maintain the bikes; money for bike storage; money to administer the program; money to promote the program and so forth.

  4. Nicole says:

    Fritz is right — the logistics (and financing) of such programs are more complex than first glance would have one believe. The campus I work on has a free bike rental program (started by a student group, but very supported by on-campus entities), and maintenance of the bikes is a problem. The bike has to be a happy medium between quality, affordability, and hopefully-won’t-get-stolen-ness. It’s also hard to keep track of a volunteer maintenance crew. The city (a city that’s very bike friendly) has tried a bike program before, that later lost funding, but is embarking on it once again. I really hope it works this time, but they definitely have hurdles to jump over.

  5. Paul of N.W. GA says:

    I live in Georgia and it has to be one of the worst states for bicyclists.

    Here is a link to the Georgia General Assembly,
    On the left side of this page click on “Georgia Code”. This will take you to LexisNexis who is hosting the laws page for the state of Georgia.

    Title 40 is Traffic laws, but it says “Motor Vehicles and Traffic”, hum, do only motor vehicles count? Further on title 40 chapter 6 “Uniform rules of the road”, remember this is under Motor Vehicles. And now Article 13 “special provisions for certain vehicles” and then we see bicycles, they are listed with *( PLAY TOYS )*.

    When I called LexisNexis they said this is the way the Georgia government told them to enter it. I was to mad Friday and only called my senator.

    If you live in Georgia and feel as I do, call everyone you know and have them call their government officials too.

    I believe Global Climate Change is real, and is all of our faults. I also believe humanity is doomed this time. What kind of life will my children have?

  6. I wrote JCDecaux about this subject on December 8th, 2006. Following is the message I sent and the reply I received a few days later:

    “I read about JCDecaux’s innovative bike rentals program in Lyon, France. If JCDecaux is looking for a means to help a large number of people, offering a similar bike rentals program in New Orleans would be brilliant and I would be willing to help make it happen.

    As a result of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans is facing huge challenges attracting tourists and residents to return. Offering bike rental stations in the French Quarter, Downtown, Uptown & along the Mississippi River bike trail would provide cost effective, short distance transportation to a variety of users that have already returned and inspire others to return as well.

    Larry Lagarde
    Ph: 504-324-2492
    Urging bicycling for recreation, commuting, health and a better future.”

    Following is the reply that I received from JCDecaux North America:

    “Hi Larry,

    Thank you for your interest in the JCDecaux bicycle transportation system.

    The success story in Lyon France has prompted many inquiries from around the world and we are looking forward to introducing the bicycle transportation system to other cities in the near future.

    New Orleans would be a great candidate for this program.

    We will be happy to keep you informed of any new announcements regarding the bicycle transportation system in the U.S. market as it becomes available.


    Customer Relations
    JCDecaux North America
    3 Park Avenue (33rd Floor)
    New York, New York 10016

    I hope JCDecaux’s bus shelter & bike rental programs are wildly successful so they will continue to roll out similar projects in major cities in the USA.


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