Thursday, July 19, 2007

A City That Buys its Citizens Their Bikes

Now here's a novel approach to getting the people of a city to move over from using cars to bikes - buy them their own bikes! Well....nearly... lets call it subsidised renting:

The program, paid for by an outdoor advertiser in exchange for the exclusive use of 1,628 urban billboards, allows people to rent the large gray bicycles at a rate 1 euro ($1.38) a day; a week pass costs 5 euros ($6.90) and a yearly subscription, 29 euros ($40). The fee gets you a maximum of 30 minutes' bike use at a time; ride for longer in one trip, and there's a small incremental fee. The time limit is intended to keep the bikes in circulation; however, you can use the program as many times as you like within the period for which you've bought a pass.

The program is part of an effort by Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoƫ, who is aiming to reduce car traffic in the city by 40 percent by 2020. The number of bikes in Paris has increased by 50 percent in the last six years; thanks to the principle of critical mass (the more bikers there are, the safer they are), the number of accidents has stayed roughly the same.

Read full story here in NYT


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