Earlier in the month, the BBC reported on the Paris Velib bike share program. The report detailed the effects of vandalism, theft, and outright destruction of the bicycles. It was a scare that echoed through various bike blogs in cities like Minneapolis that are looking into getting such a program. But the report was misleading, in a corporate sort of way.
From the BBC article, "Thefts puncture Paris bike scheme"
Hung from lamp posts, dumped in the River Seine, torched and broken into pieces, maintaining the network is proving expensive. Some have turned up in eastern Europe and Africa, according to press reports. 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".
Velib Extreme is something that happens when a collection of joksters do tricks on the commuter oriented bikes. Quiet honestly, it looks fun:
Ahh, don't blame Velib. Blame ACDC.
Anyhow, back to the BBC story. Turns out, it's not all that. Ben Fried of Streetsblog did some awesome follow-up in his story, "Reports of Vélib's Demise Greatly Exaggerated."
So is Vélib destined to burn brightly only to flare out after a short time? Hardly. Vélib is here to stay, according to officials and transportation experts familiar with the details of its operations. The BBC's portrayal of a mortal threat, they say, is best understood as a negotiating ploy on the part of JCDecaux. (Note that the JCDecaux representative is the only source quoted in that story.)"Decaux is using media sensationalism in order to obtain more money from the city of Paris," said Denis Baupin, who as Deputy Mayor for Transportation oversaw the Vélib launch in the summer of 2007.
Again, click over for the full read. It's interesting stuff considering Minneapolis is on the cusp of a similar program. Fried does outstanding work addressing the exaggerations of JCDaux.
Finally, just so you know, a source working toward the bike share program in Minneapolis thinks the bicycles we'd get are capable of riding down stairs. Nice.