from DISCOVERING URBANISM: Getting to the bottom of Velib vandalism

Discovering Urbanism

The New York Times takes a rather pessimistic view of the future of bike-sharing in Paris:

“Just as Le Corbusier’s white cruciform towers once excited visions of the industrial-age city of the future, so Vélib’, Paris’s bicycle rental system, inspired a new urban ethos for the era of climate change.”

That is: an idealistic vision that has come crashing into reality … the problem of vandalism in this case.

The reasoning behind this indictment is not the popularity of the program – it attracts between 50,000 and 150,000 trips a day depending on the season – but the costs dealing with the vandalism and theft. Thousands of the bicycles have been damaged, including 80% of the initial stock of 20,600 bicycles. Apparently, dispossessed residents of the Parisians suburbs have come to view these bicycles as symbols of the glamorous lifestyle of central city that they are barred from. This leads to resentment.

A couple of responses:

First of all, the Le Corbusier analogy is off. Vélib promoters may have been overly-optimistic about human nature in the implementation of the program, but the radiant city was a terrible idea at its core that was disastrous to the extent that it was successfully implemented.

Second, the 80% destruction figure is less shocking then it may seem. read entire article at

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