I've seen some very varying prices. Looked into it a few weekends ago when we were in Chicago, and there was a place where we could get them for $10/hr or $30-50/day. $30/day for NYC sounds like a good fair deal.
I saw some articles about intelligent bike lanes in parts of the city, where the riders are separated from traffic by a small island, and then the line of parked cars. I'd be a little chicken about riding in Manhattan, I must say, except in the park.
Post by patricklondon on Sept 7, 2009 11:03:43 GMT
The thing about the Vélib and Bixi schemes is that they aren't bike hire in the way one rents a car. I think of them as self-powered taxis: pick up, finish your ride (ideally within the initial free period), and then park and forget it. But it does depend on having stations everywhere and good back-up to keep them checked out and evenly distributed (as well as reliable computer systems) - as well as roads (and drivers!) geared towards cyclists.
For me, the best thing is not having to worry about theft or repair myself, and also I love being able to go just one way. If you have your own bicycle, you have to stick with it, even if you meet up with friends who are on foot or if it starts pouring rain.
The bike sharing systems are definitely reaching critical mass in France, since there are now 25 cities with bike systems like the Paris Vélib (not counting the 30 Paris suburbs that have joined the Paris system).
The largest ones are Paris with 20,600 bikes (more being added as the suburbs come online), Lyon with 4000, Toulouse with 2400, Nice with 1750 and Montpellier with 1200.
But plenty of smaller cities have systems as well, such as Avignon, Nancy, Caen, Rennes, Orléans, Dijon... It looks like it will be one of the principal demands by voters in future municipal elections, because even the non-cyclists benefit from such programs with less traffic and more civilized city centers.
In France, I doubt it, in terms of visitors. For residents, anybody with a bank account can use the systems (after some fastidious postal formalities), because the main problem is providing a bank guarantee for the value of the bicycle, not having a credit card.
I think some of the other countries have systems that are sometimes even coin operated.
All you have to do is send a cheque or an "autorisation de prélèvement" -- and preferably credit your account for a minimal amount, because if you go over the 30 minute limit and get debited even 1€ it will block you from taking another bike until you have a new credit again or at least 0.00€. I keep 5€ on my account at all times.
Missoula, Montana, has had a free bike-sharing system. Volunteers built basic commuter bikes from pieces parts salvaged from other bikes and painted them green, leaving them unlocked for anyone's use in various parts of town.
Most of the bikes ended up in the river! Along with shopping carts stolen from supermarkets by street people...
Yes, that's what happened to all of the European utopian free bike programs in the 1970's and 1980's. That's why everybody spent the 1990's thinking hard about a solution to the problem and we had to wait until the 21st century to get a viable system.
Post by patricklondon on Sept 9, 2009 13:44:17 GMT
Even then, I still don't understand how Vélib can have lost so many bikes. The only thing I can think of is that the deposit for non-return isn't high enough, and/or that there's something wrong with the system and that people are therefore able to get hold of a bike at someone else's expense.
But the basic concept of it seems to me to be about the right spot on the spectrum between free and full-cost purchase or longer-term rental.
I think that the fastening system at the hitching posts is not as good as it could have been, and a really determined person can break a bike loose (presumably in the dead of night).
Newer systems that I have seen around France have a different fastening process that looks more secure to me. Ripping the bike loose would break the wheel and defeat the whole purpose of the theft.
I think that Paris is counting on people finally getting it through their thick skulls that there is no reason to steal a bike that is already almost free to use. As for the bikes that have been found in Africa and Turkey, that is another problem. The bikes are specially built by a Dutch company in Hungary and they do not have standard parts, which reduces the appeal of having your own, because you can't get the parts to repair it. However, as we all know, in Africa they can repair anything by cutting up a Coke can and twisting a wire hanger.
I don't think I've ever rented a bicycle in my life,well, maybe once ,Mr.C. and I rented bikes for the day on Block Island,R.I.(all hills) and I now remember renting a bicycle on Buyukada in Turkey(also very hilly but , was solo ,so it was easier). Anyway, I was curious about prices for renting a bicycle for at least a day while in NYC and came up with incredibly different price ranges,from $60.00USD(with a $200.00deposit!!) to $30.00(no deposit,but ID). I spoke on the phone with the $30.00 people and I think I'm going to go with them. Any ideas on this? My choices are limited but I'm curious as to how it is in other cities. Clearly,the $60.00 place is geared toward tourists as it is located right at the Boathouse in Central Park and would garnish the most tourists and the other place is a bike shop off Columbus Circle near 9th Avenue.
If you will be using it for more than a couple of days, at those prices you'd probably be better off getting an old $50 bike on Craigslist and just abandoning it when you are done using it.
Of course I much prefer funky old bikes (ones that were nice in their day, but now are invisible) to the horrid things that are usually offered for rent. Cycling is absolutely the best way to explore a city or town if you are a confident rider. My favorite bike is an ancient French racing bike that I've put fat tires and realistic gear ratios on for climbing hills.
My bicycle is a dear old Raleigh Sprite (6-speed), mixte frame. I have arthritis, and even if I were a man I'd have a mixte or ladies' frame. I've been an urban cyclist for decades. Sprite's tires are a bit wider than at the origin, as the wheels have been changed to alloy (when the old wheels died) but not so wide that I can't have mudguards. Her gear ratios have been changed and include a super low one (with a mechanism to switch over) not because I climb serious hills but so as not to put any strain on my joints when I climb our Montréal hills and zig-zag up our so-called mountain. It is healthier to keep the gears a bit low and really "mouliner" (pedal fast) so you get a workout without hurting yer joints.
I can't abide the rental cycles available in Amsterdam (almost like having a sign saying "Hello, I'm a stupid tourist". But it is not always so easy to borrow bicycles there as the Dutch are so bloody tall. Kerouac is an AVERAGE man there.
As it turned out, I was able to borrow a bike from a neighboring tenant in the building I was staying. He has been living there a very long time(the chap who loaned the bike) and remembered me from my previous visits . The best cycling news though, is what's going on out here where I am on Long Island. There is an active movement to put in a major bike path that will run parallel to the LIRR. Very exciting stuff.
I love old bicycle headbadges. This is the one on my aforementioned French bike. Don't let the Italian fool you, although Bartali was a famous Italian racer, this bike was definitely fatto nella paese transalpina.
If yours is a 3-speed, it is probably heavier than my mixte Sprite. Typically Sprites were a bit lighter and more "sporty" urban bicycles than the Raleigh Sport, which is the model yours probably is. I've owned a Sport, she was brown and her name was Dolores. Though we aren't mountainous (our "mountain", Mt-Royal, is a joke for any serious mountaineer) we are hillier than you are. Though I'd be perfectly happy with a 3-speed too. Nowadays if your hub gear changer dies (as they sometimes do after a few decades) there is a model with a better development (as I have to be careful not to strain my screwed-up joints, while at the same time need exercise).
Believe it or not, 3-speeds DO get stolen. A lot of people appreciate them now as sturdy, low-maintenance city bicycles. My dear CCM Sunsport (a beautiful copper colour) was stolen a few years ago. Fortunately I was able to get the Sprite for a cheap price, from a reputable owner. (Don't want to encourage those nasty bicycle thieves).
Mine is a 'sport' model definitely. Bixa had or maybe still has a Raleigh that I thought was like yours and it was much heavier. I had some work done on mine about 3 years ago,paid a bit ,but the mechanic is very honest,thorough and has a fine appreciation for the old Raleighs. Thank goodness he is still around. His shop wiped out in Katrina but I see he is now back up and running in a different location on higher ground.
Bangkok has some cycle paths, to my surprise. Unfortunately, the bicycles are few and far between. The photos will almost certainly have to wait until I return home. Nevertheless, it indicates the even the developing world has taken note of "things that need to be done."
There is clearly some more specific cycle project underway in Bangkok, but I was not able to figure it out at this empty bicycle station. In fact, I saw very few bicycles in use in Bangkok and did not see a single one on a cycle path. Maybe later.
A few days after my trip to NYC , I read about a big bust the Central Park police in conjunction with NYPD made involving 2 or 3 outfits that were trying to rent stolen bicycles to unsuspecting tourists for exorbitant rates. ($25.00USD per hour). Good to know someone's looking out.Most likely a legit competitor.
casimira, I noticed that book too the other day, and plan to check it out. I think Amazon recommeded it to me because I had bought a book about Neil Peart on a bike trip through Africa (The Masked Rider -- a pretty good book).
K2 -- I am SOOO jealous of those pictures of Paris' bike lanes!! We have a few wimpy bike lanes here that do like Denise said -- stop abruptly because the road gets narrow. But we do have some pretty good bike trails, especially out of town. Elsewhere in my state (WI) there are some excellent trails, mostly on old railroad routes This is one of the best: www.elroy-sparta-trail.com/
I love biking, but there are a few months in the year that it just isn't possible. :-(
I would have difficulty living somewhere where I couldn't cycle year round. Even on some of our coldest days here it's still tolerable to ride if you have to. It's our rains that disable us on bikes here and even that is not long lived.
Don't remind me! I'd LOVE to be able to cycle 12 months a year. I know people here who do, but they are either much younger or a particular kind of rangy, slightly daredevil man. I cycle most of the year but do not wish to brave the ice or deep snow we get sometimes. Our winters have become very unpredictable - I was on my bicycle in early March this year, not much before April the year before with horrible ice everywhere. Year before that cycled all through January with no snow (rare up here) and weather usually so mild that I didn't wear gloves (!) despite not being young and having the odd arthritic joint.
Yes, I guess you must get strong tropical-type rains. I ride a lot in the rain when in Amsterdam, but it isn't usually that hard a rain. Nasty when it is though, especially when it is just above freezing.