arroba Email

Prospectus Blog Flexcar is *so* passe

Car-sharing just got a one-up. Enter Velib, the Parisian bike-sharing program.
Zipcar (or should I say Flexcar?!) is so last year. The latest and greatest is bike-swapping — better for your health, the environment, cheaper and vastly more flexible. With the expansion of the Burke-Gilman Trail and Bike Master Plan approval, maybe Seattle is the place to start the trend, State-side?
It works like car-sharing… you pay roughly $30 for a year membership, but unlike its carbon-depended cousin, you get 30 minutes free for every trip using Velib. It is then incrementally a dollar (roughly) an hour–$1 for the first hour, $2 for the second hour– the idea is to avoid permanent “check-outs”. Bikes are available every 300 meters (few hundred feet), and are interchangable. If you want to extend the time, you can swap it with one down the road, and the clock restarts. Clever, huh?
In Seattle, the idea would be to pair the bike system with public transit — have many pick-up locations in urban neighborhoods and suburban developments, where people can grab and go (in this case a shared bike). They ride to the park and ride, and hop on transit. After work, they hop off transit, grab one of the many bikes waiting and ride it back to neighborhood or suburban bliss.
It’s really quite dreamy, and a great addition to our current transit system. Instead of wondering about whether the park and ride will be full, or how you’re going to walk the extra 2 miles to your friend’s house, you just grab a bike at the Transit Center. Even better, the system in Paris was entirely self-funded through advertising contracts. Image: a huge boon to mobility and convenience, with no taxpayer money. What a steal!