Monday, March 26, 2007


Did you see this dramatic bit of bicycling news?

Thu Mar 8, 2:08 AM ET

PARIS (AFP) - Thousands of bicycles will be on hire across Paris from mid-July as part of efforts to ease congestion, Paris city hall said on Wednesday. By the end of the year, the city hopes to have 20,600 bikes available at a "cheap" rental to Parisians and tourists, from 1,000 pick-up points across the capital, to be set up on sidewalks as well as former parking spaces.

French street advertising group JCDecaux will build the rental points and provide the fleet of bicycles in exchange for access to more than 1,600 hoardings and other publicity sites. The contract was handed to JCDecaux late last month after a court rejected an appeal by the company's US rival Clear Channel, which claimed "irregularities" in the tender process.

Customers will be able to rent cycles for journeys around the capital, day and night, seven days a week, depositing them at any station to be picked up by new users. Cycle-for-hire networks have been developed with success in European capitals including Oslo, Stockholm and Brussels, and several French cities.

Since 2005 JCDecaux has run a similar scheme in the southeastern French city of Lyon, where city authorities have hailed it as a major success in the campaign to reduce motor transport. The bikes in Lyon are free for the first 30 minutes.

Mayor Bertrand Delanoe has significantly extended Paris's network of bicycle lanes since being elected in 2001, though campaign groups continue to press for better facilities.

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