Be Like Paris, Oui!
Fine wine. The Eiffel Tower. Montmartre. Croissants and baguettes to die for. And now, when you think of Paris, here's one more thing to think of: an amazing public bike lending program.
Paris is the home of Veligo, the largest public bike lending program we here at FreeBike have encountered. With Veligo, Parisians can check out an ebike from the city, and keep it for up to 6 months. Need to get to work, or get the kids to school, or burn off that morning's croissant? Just take your personal ebike and go for a ride along the Seine!
Note that Veligo is not the same as Velib, Paris' more traditional bike-sharing program. With Velib, you can go to any one of the system's dedicated bike racks and check out any available bike for a quick ride, then you need to return the bike to another similar rack at the end of your ride. Veligo instead lets Parisians have a bike that they can take home and can always count on to be there for them, one that is as simple to use as walking out the door (baguette in hand, no doubt!).
Participants in Veligo pay 40 euro per month, or half that for students and others who qualify. In addition, many employers will kick in another 20 euro per month. That is dangerously close to being a... free bike! Veligo launched in the fall of 2019, and is unsurprisingly immensely popular. There are approximately 15,000 Veligo bikes in circulation at any time, with an estimated 5,000 more anticipated to be added to the program in 2021. And those new bikes are not arriving a moment too soon - they will only begin to make a dent in the long Veligo waitlist.
When you think about the $10 of health benefits for every $1 invested in free bike systems, and the improved access to jobs that electric bikes provide, and the reduced pollution, and the reduced congestion, and... (you get the picture!)... it is not at all surprising that Parisians have embraced the Veligo program.
Paris is undoubtedly one of the cool kids of the world's cities. Now that they have broken the ice and shown how popular and useful personal bike lending programs are, we can only hope that many more cities will jump on board. Get in touch with FreeBike, and let's bring a little bit of Paris to your hometown!