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.
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.