Oh those sexy French frames.
There's a good story in the Times about the Paris bike program... perhaps coming to a corner near you.
I was in Lyon a few years ago and was impressed with the system. At least as impressed as I could be without actually riding one of their bikes. I wrote about it on this blog.
There's an important detail: you can't use these bikes in France with an American credit card because our credit cards don't have chips. That means you can't use them.
Any article about these bikes, and they've been many, that fails to mention this key fact means the writer is a bullshitting fraud who didn't actually rent and ride one of the bikes he or she claims to be writing about.
The Times story gets this right.
Here are the interesting facts:
•About 20,600 bikes in service. 1,450 self-service rental stations. The stations are only some 300 yards apart, and there are four times as many as there are subway stations.
•15 percent of the bikes have been stolen.
•The city has made money on the program (the bike company makes money by being able to put up and rent billboards).
•Each bike weighs 50 pounds and costs $3,460. They are heavy duty.
•Biking has become safer. Three deaths out of 27 million trips. A 24% increase in bike use that corresponds with a 7% increase in accidents.
What I still don't understand is how the system can handle popular destinations. The main problem, as I see it, is that you have to return the bike to an available spot.