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Paris Diary: Not Enough Vélibs

Paris’ public bike system, the Vélib, is a great success, so much so that it is often hard or even impossible to find a bike. The Vélib iPhone app tells you in real time where you are (I’ve highlighted my location in yellow below), where the closest bike stations are, and how many bicycles are available at each station (and how many free spaces there are, too — if you press the “Déposer” (drop off) button.

As regards availability, look at the number of gray balloons indicating no bikes are to be had at a stand at midday, and how many stands have only 1-2 bikes at them. One more wrinkle: when a bike has been placed at a stand, and it has a flat tire, detached chain, broken gears, or any number of disabling features, it is still listed as available. Obviously, improvements are needed, but Paris’ bike program is here to stay, and it will be duplicated in more cities that just New York.

Velib App1.jpg

The entire Vélib system would not work without the Internet, which enables the tracking of bikes borrowed and returned, and the above app, which we use constantly.


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