The greater Paris area will be launching a state-funded initiative to move commuters from driving cars and switch to electric bicycles. Starting in September 2019, Ile-de-France Mobilités (IDFM) will set up 10,000 e-bikes for long-term rental, with an option to expand to 20,000, which would make it the world’s largest e-bike rental programme.
The programme, called Veligo, will complement the currently running Velib initiative, which focuses on short term rentals for the bikes. Unlike the hourly rented business model, Veligo will rent electric bikes for a month, costing €40, which is further subsidisable through employers. Additionally, Velib is limited to the centre of the city, serving about 2 million people. Veligo is aimed to spread out further to include the wider region around the city, which is home to about 10 million people.
“Electric bicycles have an enormous potential. They are an efficient and ecological way to get to the railway station for short commutes that can replace the car,” said Valerie Pecresse, the conservative head of the Ile-de-France region, who often clashes on such issues with the Parisian leftist government. She also added that she believes the initiative would help motivate people to purchase their own pedelecs after being able to test them out. A total of 250,000 were sold in France last year, compared to 2.7 million regular bikes.
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The electric bike sharing programme will be managed by a joint venture named Fluow, which is backed by French postal service La Poste and transport firm Transdev. To begin, the initiative has a contract set to run for six years and an operations budget of 111 million euros.
Paris is generally moving into the procurement of electric bikes to replace the cars in the city, and other companies, such as California’s Lime have also set up light electric vehicle sharing services there. Mobility has proven a major subject for the French capital, which as also been working on establishing a car-sharing concept following the collapse of Autolib last year. Now they are balancing the services between multiple providers, which will help stabilize the volatile market.