Paris Bike Share Vélib Opens Child-Friendly Cycling Program

A Vélib bike share station in Paris. Photo by Grace Jamieson for La Jeune Politique

A Vélib bike share station in Paris.
Photo by Grace Jamieson for La Jeune Politique

This past Wednesday, June 18, Paris rolled out a childhood cycling program—the first of its kind—enabling students as young as two to take advantage of Paris’ highly successful bike share program, Vélib.

Named “P’tit Vélib,” this new program provides 300 bikes for hire at five different pedestrian-friendly, low-traffic parks across the city. The bikes themselves vary across four sizes, from a pedal-less bike for the youngest of riders to a bike with training wheels, as well as two standard, yet child-sized, independent bikes.

In appearance these bikes are very much in line with the rest of the Vélib fleet, also designed and manufactured by JCDecaux and featuring the program’s trademark bulky gray design.

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo endorsed the program, noting that “introducing the smallest children to this most ecologically friendly and convivial mode of transportation will help make the Paris of the future more open to clean, shared and low-carbon transport.”

This eco-friendly spin was also taken up by the Paris City Hall, who hopes that providing the bikes to Parisians at a young age will encourage the youthful to embrace cycling as a pleasurable and environmental mode of transportation.

The origins of the program rest in research conducted by City Hall, which found that nearly half of all kids in Paris were learning to ride a bike outside of the city, in more cycling-friendly areas. A January 2012 study showed that 86% of Parisian families would be interested in a child-friendly bike share program.

In response, Vélib has concentrated the child bike-rental areas in safe, grassy spaces, such as the expansive Bois de Boulogne park on the city’s western outskirts and the Ourcq Canal near the Seine.

Vélib, which already boasts 14,000 bikes in rotation at over 1,230 docking stations, hopes to open two more child-friendly locations by the end of the summer. Child-friendly bikes can be obtained from €4-6 ($5-8) per hour, maxing out at €12 ($16) per day, a price considerably higher than the adult Vélib, which offers a yearly pass as low as €29 ($39).

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