Pedal power: Paris unveils new 25km/h electric Velib’ bikes

Ten years after Paris launched the wildly popular Velib bicycle-sharing scheme, the grey two-wheelers that have spawned imitators worldwide are getting an electric makeover.

Pedal power: Paris unveils new 25km/h electric Velib' bikes
ALL Photos: AFP

On Wednesday, the City of Paris unveiled two new, colourful models that will replace the existing, 20,000-strong Velib fleet from January, 30 percent of which will be electric.

The frames of the bicycles are still grey but the manual model comes with an apple-green basket and chainguard. On the electric versions, which have a maximum speed of 25 km/hour and a range of 50 kilometres (30 miles), those parts are turquoise blue.

By including electric bicycles in the scheme Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who is on an crusade to clean up the city's air, aims to lure more Parisians into
the saddle.

On Wednesday, she took a spin on one and declared it “lighter, more agreeable and more useful in making the bicycle a mode of transport that is
used much more widely than today”.

The new system is also designed to alleviate chronic shortages of Velib parking spots by allowing bicycles to be parked in tops-and-tails fashion when
stations are full.

The tender to operate it won by Franco-Spanish consortium Smovengo, which beat out the existing French operator JCDecaux.

The changes come as a raft of Chinese-inspired privately-owned, bike-sharing schemes begin popping up around Paris. They differ from Velib in that cyclists can park their wheels anywhere.


Nantes rolls out France’s first long-term bike rental scheme

The western French city of Nantes is the first in the country to offer its residents the chance to rent out public bikes for anything from a month to a year.

Nantes rolls out France's first long-term bike rental scheme
Photo:Mon Bicloo

Mon Bicloo is the first bike rental scheme of its kind in France, as up to now all public cycle services in l’Héxagone allowed users to rent out two-wheelers for one single journey. 

A total of 1,000 self-service bikes were made available to the public on Thursday at Carré Feydeau shopping mall in the city of Nantes in France’s Pays de Loire region.

Depending on the time, tariffs and conditions chosen, the medium term rental costs range from €20 to €150 per month to between €120 and €1,080 for the year.

The bikes are a mix of classis cycles, electrically assisted, foldable, cargo carriers and bikes adapted to people with reduced mobility.

Routine maintenance is included in the price, as well as a padlock.

A Maison Bicloo has already opened at the launch spot in Nantes, where users can take in their bike for repair, to make new bookings and try out different models. There will also be a mobile Bicloo to offer the cycle services to all 24 municipalities in Nantes.

By 2020, the fleet will be doubled and three quarters will be electric models.

“We believe that cycling must become a means of transport in its own right,” Johanna Rolland, president of Nantes Métropole, told French daily 20 Minutes.

“With this new offering, we want to get more people on board as cyclists. It will allow users to for example test a model before buying their own.”