When we think about going for a ride we usually figure ourselves in a park, or visiting small villages where cars are banned, on holiday or making short trips. We would keep a relaxed pace to escape from our chaotic life.
But nowadays there could be other reasons to climb on a bicycle: everyday life, demanding convenience and speed, has been valuing the ecological dimension of choosing a bike. Riding is a handy, quick and cheap way to reach the job or to shop; it is actually the best way to move in big cities.
If more than 50 years ago owning a car was a luxury, today we eventually choose a bike to save money and time. We may as well prefer modern bikes to expensive and polluting cars because they are much more comfortable, light and quick now than in the past.
That’s why many big cities have changed their mobility in order to allow eco-friendly bikers to ride safely, lowering gas level as well! During the last 20 years we have been experiencing a lot of interesting changes as for bike mobility: lanes, touring routes, racks and lately bike sharing. It is a 24 hours rental service allowing anyone subscribed to unlock a bike from the rack using a password or a magnetic card.
Every big European city provides this kind of system, but only in Paris it is available for kids; in fact the project “Vélib’ Cycle” includes a system of bike sharing for kids called “P’tit Velib” (petit means little!). In the experimental stage “P’tit Velib” makes available 300 bikes for kids of different ages; besides common small bikes there are some special balance bikes without pedals suitable for toddlers. Bikes with training wheels are available for kids not able to ride yet. Finally teens have at their disposal more technical gearing bikes.
Anne Hidalgo, Paris mayor, is a strong supporter of the project; during an interview she presented “P’tit Velib” as a big step the city makes to be more kid-friendly. Introducing kids to this ecological and convivial means of transport will make Paris a tidier city, inclined to sharing and to environmentally friendly vehicles.
JCDecaux projected the bikes to be resistant but with a touch of the Parisian style: he chose brilliant colours that children will love. There are many bicycle stations deployed in the city, from the Canal de l’Ourcq (in the north-est of Paris) to the huge park of Bois de Boulogne, in the XVI arrondissement; a biker can actually cross the city through its parks, following the routes that link one green area to another.
Pick up costs (definitely affordable) depend on the site of the station: they range from 4-6 euros per hour to 12 euros per day (helmet included)
Since July 2007, when it was introduced, “Vélib” has reached the amount of 14.000 bikes and 1.230 stations: a huge success indeed! We can expect the same stunning development for “P’tit Velib” as well!
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