Paris, whose Vélib’ bike hire initiative helped inspire London’s Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme, is trialling a junior version at a number of locations throughout the city under the name P’tit Vélib’.
There are four different sizes of bikes available for children aged two to eight to use. The youngest can hope on a balance bike, which like the larger kids’ bikes all come painted in the same grey colour scheme as the adult version.
Launched yesterday, the bikes are currently available at five traffic-free locations in the city – two in the Bois de Boulogne, and one apiece in the Bois de Vincennes, the Canal de l’Ourcq, and at the Berges de Seine, running along the Rive Gauche eastwards from near the Eiffel Tower.
Four more will be added in the coming months, including on the Coulée Verte – also known as the Promenade Plantée – the disused railway line running east from Place de la Bastille where bicycles are currently banned.
With 300 bikes currently deployed – rather than being on docking stations, hiring is managed by local voluntary organisations or cycle hire businesses – the initiative has been launched in part to encourage children from the youngest age to appreciate the bike as an environmentally friendly mode of transport.
Cycle helmets are offered but are not obligatory, and parents remain responsible for the training and supervision of their children, although during school holidays cycle training courses are available at the Berges de Seine location.
Hire prices begin at €4 an hour, depending on the location, and full details of opening times, tariffs and locations, as well as details of the bikes, can be found here.
"The aim is to popularise cycling and to let children accompany their families, who previously had to buy a new bike as the child aged,” said Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo.
There’s no news on whether it is planned to fully implement the scheme across the city should the current locations prove successful – but it does make us wonder whether Transport for London might be inspired to undertake a similar initiative, inevitably nicknamed Baby Boris Bikes.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.