Paris Bike Program's Thousands of Casualties

Paris and JCDecaux promise to forge on with the popular bike program, despite having lost thousands of bikes to recklessness and vandalism.
November 2, 2009, 7am PST | Alek Miller
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"Residents here can rent a sturdy bicycle from hundreds of public stations and pedal to their destination, an inexpensive, healthy, and low-carbon alternative to hopping in a car or bus.

But this latest French utopia has met a prosaic reality: Many of the custom-made bikes, which cost $3,500 each, are showing up on black markets in eastern Europe and northern Africa. Many others are being spirited away for urban joy rides, then ditched by roadsides, their wheels bent and tires stripped.

With 80 percent of the initial 20,600 bicycles stolen or damaged, the program's organizers have had to hire several hundred people just to fix them. And along with the dent in the city-subsidized budget has been a blow to the Parisian psyche."

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Published on Friday, October 30, 2009 in The New York Times
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