Friday, February 13, 2009

Bicycle Vandals of Paris

The rentable bikes of Paris get press coverage in every large city, because every large city wonders of fleets of bikes would work for them. Reduce air pollution and traffic? Yeah! But there are drawbacks.

A lot of cities (Los Angeles included) are simply not bike friendly. Here where cars rule, vicious violence against bike riders happen frequently. Things like deliberately causing accidents, slamming bike riders with hands or bottles, or spilling drinks on them. I wouldn't say it's common, but if you ride daily, it will happen.

Why? My guess is because you don't need to pass an IQ test or be sober to ride in the passenger seat of a car, from whence much of the violence occurs.

BNew Cycle Scheme Under Way In Parisut in Paris, 42 million rides have been taken on the bikes--the velibs--provided by the city, in just 18 months of operation. Slide your credit card and go. Yay! Go green!

Sadly, half the original 15,000 velibs have been stolen or destroyed, and 1500 a day need repairs.

New bikes cost over $500, so the city is rethinking the system. Replacing all 20,000 bikes would cost $20 million, and at the rate they are being destroyed, that's about $10 million every three years. All per this BBC article, February 2009. And here's a YouTube video link called Velib Freeride.

And the vandals of Los Angeles, to whom storefronts and freeway signs are nothing more than fresh canvas for taggers, are probably thinking, "Eighteen months? Hell, we could destroy those bikes in eighteen days!"

The New York Times points out that their own proposed bike program has been put on hold.

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