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.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.