Calamitous Paris Velib bike-hire rollout will be complete by May, mayor vows

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo promised Thursday to get the city's bike-sharing service back on track by May after a change of operator brought the popular system to a near standstill.

Calamitous Paris Velib bike-hire rollout will be complete by May, mayor vows

The change in functioning of the pioneering 10-year-old Velib system has turned into a fiasco, with just 330 of more than 1,400 docking stationscurrently operational, Hidalgo told France Inter radio.

“I completely agree, this is not working,” she said. “I'm turning up the pressure, there will be very heavy penalties (for the new operator), already
more than one million euros ($1.2 million) a month.”


Forget the Paris bike scheme chaos, there is a better solution


Asked when exasperated users would finally have a fully operational system, she said, “I think it will be for the spring, end of April or early May.

 When people do get their hands on a bike, “they work very well,” she defended.

Smovengo, a startup based in the southern city of Montpellier, pipped the original operator, outdoor advertising giant JCDecaux, for the contract to run
the system when it came up for renewal last year.

It was supposed to have 600 stations working as of January 1, with 20,000 bikes available by end-March, 30 percent of which will be electric.

The city's own engineers and technicians have come to its rescue by assisting in the rollout, which Smovengo has blamed on unforeseen electrical
problems and a legal dispute with JCDecaux.

It also had to try using batteries to power some stations which have proved prone to failure.

Hidalgo dismissed the idea of pulling the contract from Smovengo, saying that such deals with service providers “can't be broken just like that.”

But the city has twice fined it one million euros over the delays, and more than 300,000 subscribers have been promised a refund for at least the month of January.


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.”