The Fremantle Mayor – Brad Pettitt has just been in Paris and had a chance to use the bike share there. He made a significant post about it on his Blog of which there is an excerpt below.
Returning to see how it has transformed the French capital has been a true highlight of my visit this time. Not only is there a bike station with up to 20 bikes on every second street corner of the capital but the system is accessible and easy to use for residents and visitors alike. It costs a Euro a day to join and then it is free to use so long as you only use the bike for 30 minutes or less. As a result Velib riders are everywhere.
Providing the free bikes though is only part of the reason for its success. Just as important is the investment in 100s (371km from memory) of kilometres of cycle lanes and making the vast majority of roads cycle friendly. Many Parisian streets are narrow and one way for cars but new lanes and markings have made many of them two way for bikes. All of a sudden it is cheaper, easier and more pleasurable to ride than get in a car. VELo LIBeration (Bicycle Freedom) – I think Fremantle could do with a bit of that.
PS In the Fremantle 2010/2011 budget we increased our expenditure on bicycle lanes and other infrastructure around ten fold to close to $400k so we should see some decent changes underway to make Fremantle a more bike friendly city. There is also a renewed push for bike-share in Fremantle which would be great if it can get up. Look out for a Fremantle Network event on this in the near future.
Hopefully this gets the Mayor energised to drive bike sharing forward on his return to Fremantle.
“A real bike-friendly city requires citizens that understand, and are open to the idea of bicycles being part of the urban fabric,” Notaras writes. “This can only come as more and more people experience the benefits of riding and themselves feel a sense of pride in having a bike-friendly city.”
Cyclists in Shibuya, Tokyo. Photo by neekoh.fi via Flickr.
From the vantage point of this bike-unfriendly city, that seems like a bit of a chicken-and-egg-style conundrum: A city doesn’t truly become bike-friendly until more people ride in it, which they likely won’t do until it becomes more bike-friendly. But change has to start somewhere.