A dramatic BBC report finds Vélib, Paris’ extensive bike-share program, in dire straits. The article claims that half of Vélib’s 15,000 bikes have “disappeared” and that many others have been vandalized, “[h]ung from lamp posts, dumped in the River Seine, torched and broken into pieces.” The director of JCDecaux, the company that runs the rental system for the city, warns that the program can’t be sustained without some serious changes.
How accurate is the story? Kottke.org found a smart posting on Streetsblog that challenges the BBC’s more sensational assertions. It quotes sources—including Paris’ Deputy Mayor of Transportation—who say JCDecaux is renegotiating their contract and encouraging the negative coverage to get the city to pay more into the program.
Apparently, JCDecaux zealously guards data on the costs and profits associated with Vélib, so it's a bit hard to objectively assess how it's doing. Since its launch, though, it's generally been regarded as a success. So, as more cities plan similar intiatives—The Bike-sharing Blog counts 92 existing programs and notes that the number's growing quickly—it'll be important to keep tabs on the public's perception of Vélib.