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Countdown to 100$ oil (7) - a smart solution: the bike

by Jerome a Paris Fri Jul 8th, 2005 at 12:54:39 PM EST

With oil having briefly touched 62$/bl before the London bombings, and now back above 61$/bl because of fears of lost production caused by hurricane Dennis, it's time for another countdown diary.

But this time, I'd like to present to you a smart initiative in Lyons (France) which give a new meaning to the expression "a free ride".

:::::::::::::::::::::: More :::::::::::::::::::

Earlier "Countdown Diaries":

Countdown to 100$ oil (6) -and the loser is ... Africa

Countdown to 100$ oil (5) - OPEC inexorably raises floor price

Countdown to 100$ oil (4) - WSJ wingnuts vs China

Countdown to 100$ oil (3) - industry is beginning to suffer

Countdown to 100$ oil (2) - the views of the elites on peak oil

Countdown to 100$ oil (1)


Inspired by a similar experience in Vienna (if anyone from there can provide some info, that would be great), the city of Lyons, the second biggest in France, decided to provide almost-free access to bikes to everybody in the center of the city. Starting last May, 2000 modern bikes were made available in about 200 locations throughout the city. You need a credit card or a subscription pass to pick up a bike, but the first half-hour or hour is free, as long as you bring it back to another "bikepark". You are charged 150 euros if you do not bring the bike back. The bikes are sturdy and not easily damaged.

The best part of the system is that it is ABSOLUTELY FREE for the city. It is part of the concession given for advertisement on city "furniture" (bus stops and the like) - the company selected, in addition from taking care of said furniture, had to make such system available to the city in exchange for getting the advertising space for a number of years - and there was a competition for the most competitive terms.

Le Monde had a lengthy article back in April (in French) when this was launched, explaining the system (summarised above. A striking bit of information is that if each person uses a bike once a week instead of a car, traffic would go down by 10 per cent.

After a few teething problems, and some partly unexpected ones (the bikepark at the top of one of the hills in the city gets bikes taken from, but very few left there, as people use the bikes to go down but not up... so the company has to bring lots of bikes to that location!), the system seems to be working well (article in French again):

  • 10,000 subscribers (for a city of about 1 million, including the suburbs);

  • 4,000 rentals per day;

  • 70% of users are men;

  • they use the bikes for an average of 20 minutes to do 2.8 km (1.7 miles)

  • the bikes are used most during rush hour

  • 1,000 bikes in 95 sites were available, this is being ramped up further in coming months.

This reduces congestion and fuel consumption. It is not coercive in any way, and, best of all, it costs nothing. The city squeezed this "service" from the ad company as the ad contract was deemed sufficiently valuable by that company to provide that additional service to keep it running.

This should be done in every city center in the world. It cannot solve the problems of the suburbs, but every step in the right direction helps.

And it is actually a step towards the most logical transport system that could be designed: trains or metros for medium or long distance travel, and car or bike rental for local, individual moves, This would slash car ownership and use massively while letting everybody keep (most of) their freedom to move around.

 Sadly, it's not as applicable to America due to sprawl - yet.

....because I would rather see us reduce the consumption of imported oil than have to send American boys to fight in the Persian Gulf. - John B. Anderson
by Anderson Republican on Fri Jul 8th, 2005 at 01:11:32 PM EST
Detroit can't make money off of bikes! Are ya out' o'ya mind man?
by DarkSyde (Darksydothemoon@REMOVEaol.com) on Fri Jul 8th, 2005 at 01:32:18 PM EST
And I am convinced it would bring health care insurance cosst down, as it would also have some health and fitness benefits.

So, great idea.

by Fran on Fri Jul 8th, 2005 at 01:44:40 PM EST
it should read: health care and insurance costs.
by Fran on Fri Jul 8th, 2005 at 01:45:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah you're probably right. I saw a lady pack her large self into her SUV the other day and drive half a block.
by DarkSyde (Darksydothemoon@REMOVEaol.com) on Fri Jul 8th, 2005 at 02:04:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
you're forgetting critical issues like ... age and infirmity.

america, in particular, has reached that point where the majority of citizens are baby boomers - and we are in our late 50's, early 60's.  definitely NOT bike material - too many broken hips and serious injuries.

i'm not saying some old folks don't ride, but on a daily basis as the primary mode of transportation, it won't work.

also, this is a bit idealistic - assuming it is only one person travelling - not a parent with kids... and here in ca, or in nyc - travelling by bike is extremely treacherous - traffic doesn't warrant a safe experience.  

i oughta know - in the mid70's, i was one of the first female bike messengers in nyc.  one pothole could take out a car, nevermind a cyclist!  today at 59, there is no way i would tackle the roadways with a bike.  

horseback riding is much safer and more fuel efficient - but you won't see me taking the boys to the store, either.

by edrie on Sat Jul 9th, 2005 at 04:19:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
our late 50's, early 60's.  definitely NOT bike material

Hm. I remember quite a number of old people on the bike roads in Germany.

They only biked slower.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Jul 9th, 2005 at 11:56:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
not "old"..but the problem with america is the bigger area to traverse, the lack of safe bike lanes and the damned fools on the roads.  in europe, i remember from the last time i visited, there is actually curtesy - not murderous intent.

it is hard enough avoiding the idiots in a metal casing, to ride a bike (even a motorbike) is extremely hazardous here.

in california, between cell phonitis and hostile drivers, one takes one's life in his/her hands each time the vehicle rolls.  

nope, i'd rather fall off my horse - at least, i can crawl back on and he'll take me home - on the roads, i'm just another speed bump.

by edrie on Sat Jul 9th, 2005 at 04:17:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps the suggestion was that in the long run, bikes are a good approach to local transportation. Obviously if you have to ride on a highway or crowded city street without bike lanes, it's not going to work. But over time as these problems are resolved the situation will get better.

There are tricycles built on bicycle principles that avoid the balance problem--as I'm sure you know.

Another issue is "what about cold in winter and hot in summer?" An obvious solution: Covered bike paths. Lots less expensive than streets...

by asdf on Sat Jul 9th, 2005 at 06:14:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
from nyc, i travelled exclusively by bike - loved it.  did 35 miles the first day out - and my legs were total jelly when i got home - couldn't wait to go back out.

the roads were snowy, the weather crisp (translate: friggin' cold) and it was incredible!  in my healthier days (pre two episodes broken back and one car wreck with permanent c6/t1 nerve damage, i loved biking.  if i were physically capable now, i would still love to bike path it - actually went to get my bike back on road several years ago, but someone rearended the rv and bent the wheel - looking back, probably a VERY good thing...

for the young, for the fit - it is incredible.  for those with safe places to ride, awesome - for those confined to areas where roads aren't friendly to cyclists, it is a damned shame.

i would love to bike around europe - my sister did it and had a ball - but for biking around california - i prefer having a bradley - it is a wee bit safer!

by edrie on Sun Jul 10th, 2005 at 03:54:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Cycling is safer per mile than driving, at least in the US and some other countries like France. It most countries, it's about equally safe on a per mile basis, though for some odd reason it's slightly less safe than driving in the UK according to the statistics I've found.

One reason cycling is more dangerous than it should be is that cyclists are rare, and car drivers aren't used to them, and accomodations are not made in terms of road planning. A concerted national effort to cycle would change all this and improve safety even more.

As far as age goes, lifetime cyclists can easily continue throughout their 50s and 60s, and perhaps longer. If you're truly too old to ride a bike, it's probably time for retirement anyway.

You have a point in terms of dealing with small children too young to have their own bicycles. But such children complicate all tasks, and not just cycling. In any case, there are baby carts you can attach to bicycles, and two-parent families can trade off duties to allow each of them to cycle.

Really, the only major barrier to widespread cycling is that we've invested trillions of dollars in a road network and suburban lifestyle that makes commuting, shopping, and other daily tasks difficult by bike. Many people couldn't bike to work at all because they're 25 miles or more away from work one way. That's a sign that we're living wrong as a society, and we should change that. In the meantime, anyone within 12-15 miles of work could easily make the effort to cycle once per week. It's not as hard as people think it is.

Personally, thanks to the politics and economic realities of peak oil, I started cycling to work in late May. I've made it in at least once a week since then, and would have made it more except for the iffy Seattle weather. One week in May, I cycled in all 5 days. It's not only safe and feasible, but many people do it, including a coworker of mine who's about 50 and has been bike commuting every day of his professional life for the last 20 years.

by Cascadia Progressive on Sun Jul 10th, 2005 at 12:00:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Vienna (Wien) initiative:
City Bike Wien (in German)
by Hansvon on Fri Jul 8th, 2005 at 02:00:06 PM EST
Vélo'v (in French)
by Hansvon on Fri Jul 8th, 2005 at 02:10:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A number of similar programs exist in the U.S. under the general name "Green Bikes." Usually they aren't new bikes, though...
by asdf on Fri Jul 8th, 2005 at 02:11:44 PM EST
there was just such an initiative in my town. donated bikes all painted yellow like a school bus. I'm not sure what happened with the program, but it seems that most people who bike around here own their own.

we also have bike racks on the fronts of buses so you can ride a bus into town and have your bike to ride while in town. that's a useful and really easy thing for mass transit to do...but it's first come first serve on the racks and they don't fit lots of bikes.

by fauxreal on Fri Jul 8th, 2005 at 10:19:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I read of one problem with the Vienna system: bikes were stolen in large numbers. I read that maybe years ago, tough - they might have found a solution (I recall unique characteristics as a proposed solution).

BTW, there is an underlying cost: before such a system can be introduced, there has to be a bike road network first. Tough it ewxist in much of (North) Western Europe, elsewhere, there is a great lagging behind.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Jul 8th, 2005 at 02:53:49 PM EST
...damn I hit the wrong button...

cont.: For example, in my city Budapest, there are only some bike roads in the suburbs and along the Danube, but I work in the centre, so can't use my bike.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Jul 8th, 2005 at 02:56:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
why on earth would you need a special "bike road" to ride your bike?  I put hundreds of miles on my bike each year on regular roads.  so do millions of other people.


The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Fri Jul 8th, 2005 at 04:38:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You should try that in the centre of my city...

Major roads are too cramped with cars [remember European cities in general have narrow roads - especially when, following the silly transport policy of the fifties-sixties-seventies, they were widened alost to the house walls to make room for growing traffic], air pollution is too great (in ex-communist countries there are still many cars with two-stroke engines). The order of traffic at crossroads doesn't anticipate cyclists (it is dangerous to turn left). Going along side roads is no solution, because the main roads are like barriers, you have to get to the next meeting of major roads to get through them. (I actually have cycled through the inner city a few times, but due to the above experiences don't want to repeat the experience.)

To bike along regular roads outside the city, that's all fine (and something I do). But inside the city, no chance unless it looks something like in Frankfurt am Main (where I lived one and a half decades ago).

By the way, having mentioned Frankfurt: when there, collagues warned my father to never ever park his car even just intruding into a bike road, for cyclists will feel perfectly entitled to climb over the car, kick in its lights, or even attack its owner. I already resented cars, but hearing this was a turning point for me :-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Jul 8th, 2005 at 05:10:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
!grin!  sign me up for Frankfurt-am-Main...

reading between the lines I'm guessing local drivers are also aggressive, compounding the other problems?

sounds like what the city centre needs is a radical planning change-of-heart a la Curitiba.... (something like) a grid of "boulevards" rendered one-way by traffic barriers, to expand the road space shareable between mv and bikes;  light rail and buses with incentives for ridership and disincentives for driving;  and some kind of emissions regs to discourage the dirty engines.  breathing stinky filth is very discouraging for cyclists and peds, and though studies tell us that the occupants of the car may be even more heavily exposed to the nasty stuff than those outside it, it's small consolation...

sorry to hear urban form is so maladaptive there.  but imho the solution is never to pave over even more open land and build more and more roads, a whole parallel network for bikes -- it is to take space away from the private auto  and give it to other transport modes...  the problem with trying to accommodate the ever growing private-auto fleet is that it not only takes up an enormous amount of public space, it discourages and displaces more efficient transit modes as you report.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Fri Jul 8th, 2005 at 05:50:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yep, local drivers are indeed aggressive, and not just aggressive, but generally assume that roads are there only for them (pedestrians are sometimes honked at even at crossings!). However, the main problem is the narrowness and crampedness of inner city roads: there is barely space between the cars.

imho the solution is never to pave over even more open land and build more and more roads, a whole parallel network for bikes -- it is to take space away from the private auto

Well, that was kind of my point, with our 'maladaptive urban form': there simply is no open land within city limits for bike roads, it has to be taken away from car roads :-) And that's exactly what cities like Stockholm, Amsterdam or Frankfurt started to do from about the eighties, but which was done only in a partial lackluster way here.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Jul 9th, 2005 at 11:29:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You mentioned light rail - so, by the way, my city has an extensive light rail network, and the world's busiest tramway line. On it the world's longest tramway trains (two long articulated units coupled) follow each other almost at stopping distance at rush hour. However, this is nothing to be proud of, instead it is again a sign of lack of investment into upgrading public transport even just to needs: a subway line should have been built along its way (along an orbital road) to take away the bulk of the traffic. At least, the city is now buying new tramways for this line (again the world's longest units).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Jul 9th, 2005 at 11:41:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Two more issues. The stinky engines, I suspect, aren't yet puhed our rigorously from kind of a 'social' thinking: these cars are owned by poor people.

Second, radical re-thinking in Western Europe was kind of forced by the fixed width of main roads - at the stage the entire width of the streets were used up, traffic just didn't have any more places to grow into, yet car ownership was further increasing - and regrettably we in the East didn't use the fall of communism as a chance to apply their lessons, but are continuing to repeat the learing curve with a delay.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Jul 9th, 2005 at 11:51:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, it's a good idea, and it works: it started in May and already 10 000 people used it. At certain hours, there are not enough bikes...

BTW, a Velo'v station has opened a few days ago in front of the building where I live , and there one within 50 m of my office, so I plan to use it a lot!

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Fri Jul 8th, 2005 at 06:03:41 PM EST
it's better than nothing, but I am amazed why you have to set up such high tech program to convince people to abandon their damned cars.
Ok, my opinion is biased, I don't have a car and I don't need one either! I cycle about 1000 km each month to go to work and back and a few hundred kilometers more for fun. A bike costs next to nothing, and if you want you can have the same high tech carbon machine Lance Armstrong is riding.
by Hansvon on Fri Jul 8th, 2005 at 06:39:09 PM EST
and if you want you can have the same high tech carbon machine Lance Armstrong is riding

for quite a bit less than a Prius, I should think...?  haven't checked the price tag on Lance's bike though, I could be wrong.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Fri Jul 8th, 2005 at 06:46:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thinking of it, I also use my own bike where I can (for example going to school every day when I was in Frankfurt), so I can't place myself into the mind of a likely user of such a system either.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Jul 9th, 2005 at 11:54:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am from Vienna, and I have the impression that it is not altogether successful here, have never used it myself (partly because I am afraid to have an accident using the same roads as the car traffic). I could go to the office on a bike in about 15 minutes, but if I did it regularly, as some of my colleagues do, I would buy my own bike, complete with helmet and appropriate gear.

I observed a similar, pioneering scheme some years ago in Copenhagen, where they do have an extensive bike road network. My neighbour, a banker, would go to the office each day on his (own) bike, but he had facilities to shower and change there, which in most cities is the exception. Besides, once he slipped in the rain and broke his arm. I met plenty of other Danes who had accidents on their bikes, and once observed a terrible collision of the bus in which I was riding with a cyclist.

The public bikes in Copenhagen were mostly used by tourists; I tried one out once. However, I seem to remember that there was a problem with bikes not being returned, and you could sometimes see vandalised public bikes in ditches, years later.

I am all for using the bike, but on a mass scale they need an extensive infrastructure to be safe, and they  are much too easily stolen. (If memory serves, in Denmark at the time, only 2% of something like 90 000 yearly bicyle thefts were cleared up.)  

by Danubian on Sat Jul 9th, 2005 at 03:07:38 AM EST
I wonder if there are statistics comparing the probability of injuries from car and bike accidents.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Jul 9th, 2005 at 11:44:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
DeAnander below supplied some such statistics.

A further point about bike security. I had three bike accidents in my life, all in my late teens. All were my fault and thus avoidable - and all had been more serious would I have driven a car.

One was just me showing off to friends with a risky stunt. In both other cases, I crashed at speed into cars that parked in violation of rules behind a corner. My fault: this is done too often, I should have slowed down when turning. Now, in neither case was my speed enough to break my bones - and had I driven a car, showing off could get me end up inside a metal coffin curled up on a lamppost, while for the other two, it would have been a frontal collision rather than flying over the parking cars, enough time to strech out my hands for the fall.

I have never been hit by a car, and that not due to courtageous drivers. Look out and be visible, and this risk is reduced.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Jul 10th, 2005 at 05:06:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
please cross post on dailykos.
by mimi on Sat Jul 9th, 2005 at 03:13:40 AM EST
Why are the bikes not as much used by women as by men?

I suspect it has something to do with the fact that you can't carry merchandise with the bikes. They need to make bikes where a woman can carry her daily or weekly groceries safely. I don't see baskets attached to the bike that would allow that.

by mimi on Sat Jul 9th, 2005 at 03:18:17 AM EST
Shopping, groceries, kids, touring ...

  • Groceries and kids
  • Touring holidays

    USA WELCOME: Make Yourself Known @BooMan Tribune and add some cheers!

    'Sapere aude'

  • by Oui (Oui) on Sat Jul 9th, 2005 at 04:31:50 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    All these objections to bikes seem rather feeble to me as one who has been bike-based for years.  I know several families with children (ranging from toddlers to teenagers) who are carfree, so even that is not an insuperable problem.

    Plenty of utility trailers, specialised bikes, and luggage for conventional bikes are available for hauling Stuff.  I haul a fair amount of stuff and almost never need to borrow a car.  And for the price of a car, sheesh, you could own a fleet of bikes and trailers.

    Perceptions of cycling risk are imho grossly exaggerated.  40,000 people die yearly in the US inside cars, only about 700-800 while cycling -- despite the "terribly dangerous" nature of cycling.  I myself have cycled pretty regularly -- on surface streets, not sidepaths -- for over 30 years and my only crashes have been at very low speed, and resulted in only a few scrapes and bruises.  However the perception that cycling is dangerous is very persistent (it is the most common excuse I hear among Americans for not cycling or walking:  "it's too dangerous" or "I won't do it until the government builds me a bike road network") and this discourages millions of people from cycling -- hence they drive a lot more, increasing the moderate but genuine danger to others who cycle or walk.

    An interesting feature of cycling safety is that the only really consistent correlation with cyclist safety is number of cyclists.  Everything else -- road engineering, prosthetic interventions like helmets and pads -- everything except, possibly, night lighting (though even this may be confounded by Dutch results) -- has only minor, or contested effects.  But afaik in all longitudinal studies there is a strong correlation between the number of cyclists on the roads and the risk per cyclist.  The more common cycling is in a country, the safer each cyclist is.

    Which means, of course, that the most effective thing any of us can do to make cycling safer is to go out there and do it :-)

    On a related note, the BMJ once concluded that, weighing up the health benefits of regular exercise via cycling vs the risk factors of road cycling, the average road cyclist was 20 times more likely to extend his or her lifetime than to curtail it by cycling regularly.  The leading causes of death in the US last time I looked were smoking and cardiovascular unfitness.  Not too many cyclists smoke (you need your lung power) and most are, even if not athletic (I'm not), fairly robust in the cardio department.

    I also know several people with back, hip, shoulder problems who are not able to walk or run but can cycle at low speed in comfort, and use their bikes as a "mobility aid".  So the notion that older folks are automatically disqualified from cycling also seems highly questionable to me.  I'm pushing 50 myself and can ride 30 miles for pleasure without collapsing (and believe me I am morphologically closer to Yogi Bear than Lance Armstrong).

    A friend of mine has a sig that I think bears on the discussion:  It is easier to act your way in to a new way of thinking, than to think your way into a new way of acting.  If we start by thinking that riding a bike is dangerous and difficult then the action (actually doing it) will never happen;  but if we start by actually riding the bike, the odds are that whole new ways of travelling and thinking may result.  At least that is what happened for me.  I now regard trips in a car or plane as brief experiences of inhumane incarceration, which leave me longing to get back on my bike and enjoy real freedom.  But as they say, "Your mileage may vary."

    The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

    by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Sat Jul 9th, 2005 at 11:35:59 PM EST
    Indeed. And the Viennese poster below spoke of his Danish acquitances who had bike accidents, yet those didn't quit biking.

    Also, for Americans, it's not just the perceptions about security - I believe the width of US streets should enable biking on roads even in downtown areas with high traffic without problems.

    *Lunatic*, n.
    One whose delusions are out of fashion.

    by DoDo on Sun Jul 10th, 2005 at 04:19:20 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Here's an old essay on road safety which I forgot to include in the above rambling.  It raises the basic questions about what is "safe" and what is "dangerous" behaviour, how risk is generated and who experiences it, how perception of risk is skewed by social/cultural norms, etc.

    The difference between theory and practise in practise ...
    by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Sat Jul 9th, 2005 at 11:41:03 PM EST
    You could merge these two comments for a diary of your own!

    *Lunatic*, n.
    One whose delusions are out of fashion.
    by DoDo on Sun Jul 10th, 2005 at 04:20:46 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Here is the meat of it - the kind of statistics I was looking for in response to Danubian:

    We could also compare the risk of other activities of which we have some intuitive "risk perception". What's the risk of dying per million hours of exposure to a wide range of activities? According to Failure Associates, a professional risk assessment firm, the numbers look like this:

        Skydiving     128.71
        General Flying      15.58
        Motorcycling       8.80
        Scuba Diving       1.98
        Living           1.53
        Swimming      1.07
        Snowmobiling        .88
        Motoring        .47
        Water skiing        .28
        Bicycling        .26
        Airline Flying        .15
        Hunting        .08

    It seems a little odd that cycling should be safer than living! But all this means is that if you were magically immune to every other kind of risk, and you did nothing but ride a bicycle 24 hours a day, you would live far longer than the average person. In reality, some other higher risk (or inevitable old age) will eventually catch up with you. It's pretty intuitive that skydiving should be a hazardous activity, but most people would be surprised to find that cycling rates as safer than swimming! And most people would hotly deny that cycling is safer than driving (motoring).

    BTW, I wonder why the strong difference between "Airline flying" and "general flying". Plus, I know riding trains is way below the minimum on that list.

    *Lunatic*, n.
    One whose delusions are out of fashion.

    by DoDo on Sun Jul 10th, 2005 at 04:43:26 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Do you have a link for these numbers? I'd be really interested to have it!

    In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
    by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Jul 10th, 2005 at 06:04:52 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Jérôme, it's in DeAnander's link!

    *Lunatic*, n.
    One whose delusions are out of fashion.
    by DoDo on Sun Jul 10th, 2005 at 12:48:30 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Having ridden to work on the Vienna system, I can attest to it working pretty well.

    The system read the chip on your bank card as ID.  You had to register and provide a password.  The first hour was free, then started charging your bank account automatically for every hour afterwords.  Should the bike have been abandoned, the system would stop charging per hour and would charge a 600 euro replacement cost.

    At the start it was unfriendly to tourists (however you could go to a tourism office and get a day card or something) - but slowly I think they made some changes to improve it.

    Myself, I would have seen if I could have set it to take any Maestro card with a chip (majority of European bank cards).  That way the majority of tourists could have used it if they pleased.

    I used it a lot - I learned the traffic light timings on Franz-Josef Kai rather quickly.  I also learned to get my way around the first district without a map.

    "now this is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning." W. Churchill

    by Thor Heyerdahl (thor.heyerdahl@NOSPAMgmail.com) on Sun Jul 10th, 2005 at 01:15:16 AM EST

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