Paris set for invasion of self-service bicycles

30th January 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Jan 30, 2007 (AFP) - Paris is bracing for a transport revolution later this year with the arrival of more than 20,000 self-service bicycles thanks to a deal between city hall and one of the world's leading suppliers of urban advertising.

PARIS, Jan 30, 2007 (AFP) - Paris is bracing for a transport revolution later this year with the arrival of more than 20,000 self-service bicycles thanks to a deal between city hall and one of the world's leading suppliers of urban advertising.

A contract signed Monday with JCDecaux gives the French firm access to more than 1,600 hoardings and other publicity sites, but also requires it to provide a mass system of cheap cycles-for-hire.

By the end of the year JCDecaux has undertaken to set up 1,451 stations, where customers can use swipe-cards to rent some 20,600 cycles for journeys around the capital. The bikes can be deposited at any station, and then picked up by new users.

Some 1,000 stations -- with 14,100 bikes -- are supposed to be in place by the start of the summer tourist season.

A similar system has been run by JCDecaux since 2005 in the southeastern city of Lyon, where city authorities have hailed it as a major success in the campaign to reduce motor transport.

Some 3,000 bicycles are available in Lyon at 240 stations, with the first half hour of usage free of charge. According to JCDecaux, some 15,000 bicycles are used there every day. Several other French cities have smaller programmes.

Socialist mayor Bertrand Delanoe has significantly extended Paris's network of bicycle lanes since being elected in 2001, though campaigning groups continue to press for better facilities.

Opposition members of the city council expressed scepticism over the chances of setting up the new cycle stations in the agreed time-scale.

"There are 350 metro stations in Paris, so 1,000 cycle stations means one at practically every street corner. How are they going to manage it?" Jean-Francois Legaret, spokesman for the centre-right Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), told Le Parisien newspaper.

JCDecaux, which has had the Paris advertising contract since 1976, won the new bid over intense competition from its US rival Clear Channel. Clear Channel seemed poised for victory late last year, before the French company undercut it with a last minute offer.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news, Paris

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