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LIFE IN PARIS

Up to 1,000 Vélib’ bikes are stolen or vandalised every week in Paris

The operators of cycle share scheme Vélib' have spoken out about the rash of vandalism that has been affecting their bikes in Paris.

Up to 1,000 Vélib' bikes are stolen or vandalised every week in Paris
Vélib' bikes in Paris. Photo: AFP

The shared-use bikes, with their grey and green livery, have become a common site around Paris, but the company behind them says it is struggling to deal with the level of repairs needed.

Managers from Smovengo, the company behind the scheme, say they lose 600 to 1,000 bikes a week, and repair 300 damaged bicycles a day – of which it is estimated that around 60 percent have been vandalised.

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“This phenomenon of vandalism has taken us a little by surprise,” admits Pierre Heyraud of Smovengo.

“In the other cities where we have bicycles, in Clermont-Ferrand, Montpellier, Helsinki, Moscow, they can't believe it. Nowhere else has so much vandalism.

“We have the impression that the big game in Paris is to break the tail lights of the Vélib.”

To try and address the problem Smovengo has recruited a specialist bike repair team, who work permanently in a depot in Villeneuve-La-Garenne on the outskirts of Paris.

It comes as Smovengo is trying to increase the number of bikes available in the French capital and Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo is attempting to improve cycling rates in the city.

She recently told French newspaper La Journal du Dimanche that she wanted to make Paris a “world capital of cycling”.

Both she and her deputy Christophe Najdovski have spoken of an “insufficient” number of Vélib' bikes in the city and asked the company to address availability of bikes in an attempt to get more Parisians out of their cars and on to a bike.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

The UK is set to scrap all Covid-19 travel restrictions in what the government described as a "landmark moment".

Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

Testing is no longer required for vaccinated travellers, but the UK government has announced that it will scrap all Covid-19 travel rules on Friday, March 18th.

“As one of the first major economies to remove all its remaining Covid-19 travel restrictions, this is a landmark moment for passengers and the travel and aviation sector,” said the Government in a press release. 

From 4am on March 18th:

  • Passengers going to the UK will no longer be required to fill out a Passenger Locator Form before travel;
  • Passengers who are not vaccinated will not be required to take a pre-departure Covid test, or a Day 2 test following arrival. Fully vaccinated travellers are already exempt from having to do this;
  • Hotel quarantine for travellers coming from ‘red list’ countries, of which there are currently none, will also be scrapped by the end of the month. 

“We will continue monitoring and tracking potential new variants, and keep a reserve of measures which can be rapidly deployed if needed to keep us safe,” said UK Health Minister Sajid Javid. 

The UK has lifted all Covid-related rules including mask rules and mandatory self-isolation if you test positive for Covid.

Some European countries still have Covid restrictions in place for unvaccinated people coming from the UK. 

Until March 18th

Until the new rules come into effect, all travellers are required to fill out a passenger locator form. 

Unvaccinated travellers are also required to take pre-departure test and a test on or before Day 2 following their arrival. 

The UK border officers will recognise proof of vaccination provided with an EU Covid Certificate.

For the UK “fully vaccinated” means 14 days after your final dose of a EMA/FDA or Swiss approved vaccine (Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson). 

After a period of confusion, the UK government says that it will accept mixed doses administered in the EU (eg one dose of AstraZeneca and one of Pfizer).

However people who have only had a single dose after previously recovering from Covid – which is standard practice in some European countries – are not accepted as vaccinated by the UK.

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