The city of Paris has unveiled the next generation of its Vélib' bike-sharing scheme, which will hit the streets of the French capital from 1 January. Lighter than their predecessors – and brighter in colour – three in 10 of the new bikes will be electric-assist models.
The new bikes will weigh 20kg against the 22.25kg off the current ones, while the electric bikes will have a battery range of 50 kilometres and a maximum speed of 25 kilometres an hour – the maximum permitted under EU legislation.
An electronic box, known as a ‘V-box’ will allow the bike to exchange information via Bluetooth with a smartphone, allowing the user to log rental time and distance travelled.
The e-bikes, meanwhile, will have a USB socket to enable phones to be charged, as well as a case to place one in.
Between now and March next year, the city will replace existing Vélib’ docking stations with 1,400 new ones designed specifically for the latest bikes.
Around half of those will be in place in January, with the remainder gradually phased in by March.
A new docking system will enable users to return a bike even if the docking station is full.
The locations of the new docking stations mean that for the first time the scheme will be available in all 68 communes of the greater Paris metropolitan area.
Both types of the new bikes can be tried out until tomorrow at the Bassin de la Villette in the 19th arrondissement.
The rollout of electric bikes may help solve a problem that has plagued the scheme since it was introduced in 2007.
Users in areas such as Montmartre would ride downhill into the city centre in the morning, but return home by other means, causing a logistical headache for the operators, who needed to replenish docking stations each evening.
Across the English Channel, former Mayor of London Boris Johnson cited the hills in the north of the British capital as one reason that the city’s cycle hire scheme could not be rolled out to areas such as Hampstead and Highgate.
In 2013, plans were unveiled to trial of an electric bike hire scheme based in Finsbury Park that would serve areas such as Muswell Hill, Crouch End and Alexandra Palace, but nothing came of it.
However, London is set to get its own second-generation public hire bikes, with Pashley confirmed as the new supplier to the Santander Cycles scheme from next year.
Like their Parisian counterparts, the new bikes will be around 10 per cent lighter than the original ones.
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.