It was seven years ago on Tuesday that Paris launched the Velib' public bike rental programme that has since become an indelible and essential part of the capital's landscape.
Things started off a little rough, with 3,000 bikes stolen in the first year of the programme, but system operator JCDecaux eventually got a handle on the pilfering and vandalism that at one point threatened to puncture the scheme.
Last year The Local reported how vandalism continues to blight the scheme. In April extremists slashed hundreds of Velib' tires as part of an “anti-slavery” protest.
Since coming on the scene the Velib' scheme has been immortalized in song and images of the bikes have become emblematic of the city. Things have been going so well lately in fact, Paris Town Hall recently rolled out a mini-Velib' programme for kids.
In honor of the Velib's seventh birthday here are seven figures that define the legendary two-wheeler:
FIVE: In the past seven years Velib’ users have ridden 614 million kilometres on the ubiquitous grey machines. That is enough for five trips to Mars and back to Earth.
ONE: One Velib’ is rented every second in Paris, which comes to about 86,400 rentals per day.
SEVEN: Velib’s busiest time of the day is between the evening rush-hour, 6pm to 7pm which accounts for 9.2 percent of all rentals. While the slowest time is from 5-6am, when it’s too early for most people to go to work and pretty late to be coming home from a night out. Only 0.5 percent of rentals happen in that hour.
2.5 million: Of Paris’s 30 million tourists per year, about 2.5 million of them rent out a Velib’ to wander the City of Light. Germans took the top spot amongst foreign Velib’ riders, followed by the Americans and the British.
11 million: Night-time riders, who hit the streets from 1-6am, accounted for 11 million Velib’ trips.
8,000: Last year alone 8,000 Velib’ bikes were stolen or vandalized. However, 87 percent of the stolen bikes later were either found or eventually returned.
87: A 2013 survey from TNS-Sofres found that 87 percent of Paris area Velib’ riders liked the service. Ninety-nine percent said they would recommend Velib’ to a friend.