The Business Behind Bike Rentals

<p>Two outdoor advertising firms are the operators behind the scenes in most of the world's bicycle rental programs, including a recently launched system in Paris. The two firms continue to battle for control of future systems, and advertising rights.</p>
September 21, 2007, 9am PDT | Nate Berg
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"JCDecaux neither invented nor pioneered urban bike-operations. But Vélib' is on a different scale from any of its predecessors. Smaller schemes launched over the past four decades mostly failed because the bikes were vandalised or stolen. More recently both JCDecaux and Clear Channel Outdoor have launched urban bike-rental schemes in which users pay with their credit cards-which means they can be tracked down in case of abuse. Such schemes are now working well in more than a dozen cities including Vienna, Lyon, Brussels, Seville and Cordoba (run by the French), and Barcelona, Oslo, Stockholm and Rennes (run by the Americans)."

"JCDecaux and Clear Channel Outdoor will continue to compete for new bike schemes as well as contracts for billboards, street furniture (public loos, bus shelters and the like) and transport (advertising in airports and train stations). The French recently won a bike contract in Toulouse, and the American firm will launch a cycling scheme next month in Washington, DC. Both are lobbying hard for the right to set up a scheme in London."

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Published on Thursday, September 20, 2007 in The Economist
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