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Bike rentals, a fashion in Paris

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In my schooldays in Coimbatore, Tamilnadu, bicycles were the prime mode of transport for the middle-class. The affluent among my class-mates came to school in own bikes. My parents didn’t get me one till I joined college in New Delhi. By which time (this, in late 50s) bicycling went out of fashion.

With aggressive marketing of Luna, scooty, and other two-wheelers bicycles became a poor man’s vehicle. We, who considered ourselves better-off on the social scale, preferred the rush, long wait and uncertainty of public transport to a bicycle for travelling to work. Coming to office on a bike wasn’t an executive thing. Clerks biked to work.

Today, the good old bike could be an answer to traffic congestion and carbon emission in Bangalore,if only office-goers and company executives take to the bike in a big way, making bicycling a fashionable mode of transit, as they have done in Paris. One would like to see Anil Kumble and Shivrajkumar going to work on a bike;see Rahul Dravid with a bicycle in lifestyle media ads. Major IT companies - Infosys, IBM, Yahoo and others - could promote use of bicycles.

They could cut-back on car allowance and offer, instead, bicycle bonus to employees. And those who give up their cars for bicycles could be considered for telecommuting. Maybe IIM-B students could take up a project to explore the prospects of putting in place (are you and your project group reading this, Reema Mahajan?) bicycle rentals service in Bangalore on the pattern of Velib’ of Paris.

The New York Times, in a recent articleA New Fashion Catches On in Paris: Cheap Bicycles Rentals – gives us an idea of how the system works. Maybe we can’t replicate it in all aspects, for Bangalore isn’t quite Paris; but the concept could be emulated.

The highlights of the Paris bicycle rentals:
1)The bikes are cheap to rent, as they are subsidized by advertising; some 20,600 bicycles are for hire, from 1,450 rental stations.
2)Annual subscription (29 euros) lets user take a bike whenever needed for 30 minutes at a time without extra-charge. It is reckoned 96 percent of all rides are less than 30-minute duration (and hired bikes can be returned at any convenient location).
3)Bicycles theft rate – 15 percent in the first year of operation. About 1,500 bikes a day come in for repairs.
4)Bikes can be rented on hourly basis, for a day, and also on weekly basis.
5)The 10-year contract for running bicycle rentals has been taken up, not by a transport contractor but a major PR and advertising company – JCDecaux.

[Cross posted at my personal blog here]


shas3n's picture

Nice post

122 users have liked.
Thanks for this post Sir, most of us on Praja are already sold on the idea of bikes as a mode of transport so you are preaching to the choir here :) However, I quite like the idea of our role-models advocating (or at least pretending to) use of cycles. This might be a big step in overcoming the image of bicycles as a 'blue-collar' vehicle. Here is an old post on bikes on praja with a lot of interesting notes -Shastri


raviranjan.kumar's picture

We do it

116 users have liked.

There are groups in Bangalore which promotes Bicycling as hole. Please have a look at

They promot bicycling as mode of sustainable transport.

Thanks and Regards,

~ An avid biker, Ravi

blrsri's picture

yesterday on my drive back..

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met this guy in bike overhauls..complete with head gear and all in front of HAL airport..he was gliding through the traffic like a fish..amazingly fast..met him at intervals on airport road and he finally overtook my car for good on richmond road!

makes me think if I should try that insted sometime!

raviranjan.kumar's picture

My experiance

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In my experiance what you is correct.

I started cycling for fitness, but took it work oncw to see how much time does it take. I was surprised that it took 10 mins lesser than goign by car. And now i go office on my bicycle and nothing else.

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