Like this site? Help us to make it better.


100 Velib' bikes fished out of Parisian canal

Fate of some of French capital's stolen hire scheme bikes uncovered as Canal St-Martin cleaned...

Council workers in Paris have fished around 100 Velib' hire scheme bikes from the Canal St-Martin in the north-east of the French capital.

Introduced in 2007, the popular bike-share programme has been beset by problems related to theft and vandalism, but at least the whereabouts of some of the missing bicycles has now been resolved.

The canal, which featured in the movie Amelie, was drained earlier this month to enable it to be cleaned, with items found there including shopping trolleys, toilets and a handgun, reports The Local.

But its Velib' bikes that have turned out to be one of the most popular items to dump in the waterway, which runs from near the Gare de l’Est towards the Seine, going underground as it approaches the Bastille quarter.

Albert Asséraf, director of strategy at advertising firm JCDecaux, which operates the scheme, told Liberation: “We may still find two or three more, there’s still a little bit of water.”

The bikes that have been recovered are in no state to be returned to the fleet, although some parts may be cannibalised for use as spares.

Despite users having to register for an account or insert a credit or debit card at docking stations to access the scheme, thousands fail to be returned each year – 8,000 in 2013 alone.

 Although 87 per cent of those were subsequently recovered, many had been vandalised and needed repairing before being returned to the streets.

JCDecaux has deployed CCTV, special recovery teams and reinforced locks to try and combat theft and vandalism.

In 2013 the city introduced two-day workshops under the title 'You break it, you repair it' in January 2013 for young people found abusing the scheme, who would spend the time with Velib' maintenance staff.

The scheme has since been extended to all adults, with mayoral spokeswoman Nadhéra Beletreche said it made participants “aware that users are penalised for their behaviour and that JCDecaux employees must repair the consequences of their degradation."

According to a tweet last week from BBC London's Tom Edwards, the number of Boris Bikes stolen and never found again is tiny compared to the experience of Paris.

Simon has been news editor at 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.

Latest Comments