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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Environment 6 - Self-Service Bicycles

It has been some years since I last was in Paris. It is ever so beautiful, but this time, it is much cleaner and the locals are even friendly! Yes, Parisians can be friendly. :)

There are many monuments like the Opera House above, but what impressed me this time round is the self-service bicycle system they have in the city, called Velib. I guess it stands for "Ve" as in "Velo" (bicycle) and "lib" as in "libre" (free).
Basically, there are several bicycle parking centres, that locks the bikes electronically with a device fixed on a stand to the ground. You can pick up a bike from any of this stands and return it at any other stand you find in the city. This service started about a year ago on 15th July 2007.

. This is how the locking device looks like. You unlock by tapping your contactless value stored card on the device reader.


This is the cash-card dispenser and top-up machine.


Behind the machine is a map of where the bicycle stands are in the city.


Bicycle lanes are allocated in the city.

.Even directional panels to help cyclists know where they can safely travel on.

. Cycling is liberating. Also, you can just about park anywhere - even places where cars can be towed away! :)

Due to the success of Velib, the city council is now planning to have Voilib, which is a self-service electric car system. For more information on Velib, click here.

So perhaps very soon, we will see cute little cars like this Smart, but electrically powered, self-serviced and commonplace within the city of Paris.

Taking the self-service electric car a step further, can we have driverless electric car service on demand? This will in turn lead us to PRT or Personal Rapid Transit. You may like to read my previous post on PRT here.


1 comment:

gary said...

Taking the self-service electric car a step further, can we have driverless electric car service on demand?

But of course! Not only can you, but future cities will not give you a choice. We need to convert the existing roadways into PRT-right of ways for it to ever fully work (door to door). Bye bye automobile. Like this...

Unlike mass rapid transits and light rail transits, these cars are independent of their tracks. Hypothetically, they can operate as electric cars on conventional roads.

I would differ on this one point...much better to put the vehicles on rails. 99.999% of all travel is over the exact same pathways. And rails are more efficient and easier to control. Would you rather stand next to a vehicle on rails traveling at 35 mph? Or a vehicle with rubber tires running over potholes at 35 mph?