You may soon see tiny versions of Paris’s famous Velib’ rental bikes tootling along in the capital’s parks.
Paris Town Hall has announced it will roll out on Wednesday 300 public rental bikes for kids aged 2-10 under the new "P’tit Velib" program. They’ll be painted the same distinctive gray as the full-size version, with the same stocky frame and even with front baskets like the adult bikes.
But unlike the 20,000 adult Velib’s scattered at self-service rental stations around the city and suburbs, the P’tit Velib’ will only be up for hire at five spots in the capital, French daily Le Parisien reported.
Riders will be able to find them in the public parks at Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes, as well as the pedestrian-only areas along the River Seine in central Paris, along the Ourcq Canal and the greenway (coulée verte) that runs through the 7th arrondissement.
For the youngest P’tit Velib’ riders, two to four years old, the bikes are basically scooters that have no pedals or chain. There will also be mini-Velib’ bikes for four to eight year olds, which are fully equipped bicycles, but which come with or without stabilizers (training wheels).
Finally for eight to ten years olds, P’tit Velib’ will offer slightly larger, intermediate level children’s bikes, which will still be smaller than the adult size. And all the bikes will be managed by a company called Somupi, a subsidiary of JCDecaux, which currently runs the adult Velib’ service.
Since its 2007 rollout, the Velib' schemehas become a major component in Paris’s public transport system, although it has struggled with a massive theft and vandalism problem (see link below).
However, not everyone is a fan of the scheme it seems.
During a recent 'anti-slavery' protest, militants slashed the tires on 360 Velib' bikes at rental stations on the edge of Paris.
In statement the activists wrote: "Not content with having one of the largest fortunes in France, JCDecaux also lines its pockets through the exploitation of prisoners, in partnership with the prison administration."