Here's a cool idea: The city of Paris will begin offering "thousands of low-cost rental bikes at hundreds of high-tech bicycle stations scattered throughout the city, an ambitious program to cut traffic, reduce pollution, improve parking and enhance the city's image as a greener, quieter, more relaxed place," the Washington Post reported recently.
"By the end of the year, organizers and city officials say, there should be 20,600 bikes at 1,450 stations -- or about one station every 250 yards across the entire city. Based on experience elsewhere -- particularly in Lyon, France's third-largest city, which launched a similar system two years ago -- regular users of the bikes will ride them almost for free.
" 'It has completely transformed the landscape of Lyon -- everywhere you see people on the bikes,' said Jean-Louis Touraine, the city's deputy mayor. The program was meant 'not just to modify the equilibrium between the modes of transportation and reduce air pollution, but also to modify the image of the city and to have a city where humans occupy a larger space.' "
An aide to Paris's mayor told the Post that a recent study of trips in the city via auto, bicycle, taxi and walking showed cycling was always fastest.
A private company, Cyclocity, operates Lyon's program and will be running Paris's. It will cost about $38/year or $1.30/day to be allowed to rent cycles. After that, rentals will be free for the first 30 minutes, $1.30 for the next half hour and $9.10 for 2 hours, the Post reported.