The iconic grey public bikes of Paris have been available through the Velib hire system for ten years. It has 300,000 subscribers, both residents, and visitors to Paris who currently pay an annual fee of 29 Euros.
Until last year the system was run by JCDecaux but it has now been taken over by Smovengo. A scheme is under-way to replace the bikes with a mixture of electric and redesigned bikes. When completed the price will increase to 37.20 Euros for non-electric users. This is considerably less than the 100 Euros for London’s public bike subscription but more than Madrid’s electric bikes which cost just 25 Euros.
Today The Local is reporting that only 64 of the 1,460 planned docking stations are operational with just 10 weeks left to commission the remainder.
There is now a noticeable lack of the bikes on the streets of Paris. Most of the docking stations are empty. It is also not possible to find bikes as the mobile system used to track them has been down.
Paris city hall authorities are reportedly furious and are threatening Smovengo with penalties.
One group benefiting are the dockless hire companies such as China’s OFL, Gobee Bikes and oBike. These providers allow you to leave the bike anywhere. The bikes are fitted with GPS trackers allowing users to find them using mobile app’s.