One solution to the Bogota post : Allo Velo’v!

I said that I’d continue on the Bogota post later. I had a lot of ideas but too much to write for one post.

So, quick solution for Ottawa: get a rent-a-bike system.

I’ll be honest. I’m a terrible cyclist so it’s quite something that I’m blogging about biking. But I think this idea should materialize.

Ottawa has some of the best and most beautiful trails/bike paths in Canada and as the Capital city, there are obviously a lot of tourists that come through that want to explore. Renting a bike should be easy and it shouldn’t be $9/hour!

Lyon, France piloted a project in 2005 called the Velo’v (for an English read click here) . Essentially, it’s a 24/7 rent-a-bike system which has over 200 stations across the city.

This is how it works in a nutshell:

  • each station has about 10-20 bikes (enough stations so that you could pretty much walk 5 min and you’d find a station)
  • take the bike (after you’ve signed in), ride it for however long you want (you pay for your time) and put it back at any other system around the city.
  • The key: You have to have a French bank account. This acts as your tracking system. If you don’t return the bike (or you return the bike and it’s damaged, then they withdraw 180 euros from your account. This also acts as your timer
  • The cost? EXTREMELY CHEAP!
    • For one week, the cost of signing up is 1 euro. For the year, it’s 5 euros
    • The first half hour on the bike is FREE (you can get anywhere in Lyon within 30min – or at least find another station, wait two minutes and take it out again…umm..something the students do all the time…)
    • after that, the price is less than 2 euros /hour

It’s an ingenious idea. I actually met the Chief of Staff for Grand Lyon who made it happen. I asked him how often the bikes got damaged or stolen and he said that the track record was pretty good. The Velo’v system had become public property – anytime anyone saw someone damage it, they’d get upset and call the person on it.

It took me a while to muster up the courage to ride it in the busy streets of Lyon…I’m not that courageous of a cyclist as you can see….. I much prefer bike paths to city streets (which thankfully, this city is quite blessed with!)

I think Ottawa would be a fine candidate for something like this. Let’s try and make public transit, whether buses, light rail or bikes, useful for people. Oftentimes people don’t want to ride a bike somewhere because they then have to think about where to store it while they go do something. This solves that issue and it also just makes the non-bikers like me more open to at least trying it out. I won’t spend $9/hour to go biking and I won’t spend a couple hundred on a bike when I might not stay here.

Bogota did the right thing by investing in public transit. Lyon has done the same. Small cities with large populations understand the importance of finding less spacious, more environmental ways to move people. Public transit should not be thought of as something for the lower classes. It’s a healthy choice – both for people and the environment.

Here’s Germany’s version of “Call a Bike”-see comment below from Simon Chen.

Frankfurt’s Call a Bike

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5 thoughts on “One solution to the Bogota post : Allo Velo’v!

  1. Jay Godse says:

    Interesting idea…where do you store the bikes in the winter?

  2. janeporter says:

    The bikes were still being used in the winter (pretty mild there) but good question….enough for a follow up post. Read on… And thanks Jay for all the posts. Love your comments.

  3. […] So, his latest question was,  “what do you do with the rent-a-bikes in the winter?” […]

  4. janeporter says:

    Comment from Simon Chen that I wanted to share…

    Jane,

    Your recent blog post reminded me of the attached pic. I was in Germany
    last spring – I think the pic is from Frankfurt. It’s a bicycle that can be
    rented from a company called ‘Call a Bike’. Basically, you could be walking
    around the city when you suddenly come across a ‘Call a Bike’ bike. You use
    your cell phone to call up the company and you can rent the bike from them.
    When you get to where you are going, you call them back and lock the bike up
    for the next person.

    (picutre posted above)

  5. […] “Quick solution for Ottawa: get a rent-a-bike system.” I think Ottawa would be a fine candidate for something like this. Let’s try and make public transit, whether buses, light rail or bikes, useful for people. Oftentimes people don’t want to ride a bike somewhere because they then have to think about where to store it while they go do something. This solves that issue and it also just makes the non-bikers like me more open to at least trying it out. I won’t spend $9/hour to go biking and I won’t spend a couple hundred on a bike when I might not stay here. […]

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