Vélib Vandalism; JCDecaux is Fed Up
PARIS, France – The much applauded Paris’ bike-share system, Vélib is facing a serious setback due to rampant theft and vandalism. In 2012 alone 9,000 bikes were reported mangled or missing.
According to JCDecaux the replacement of these bikes costs around 5.4 million euro. Vandalism and theft have been a major headache for Vélib since the system was launched in 2007. JCDecaux, the France-based multinational that operates Vélib, has fought back over the years by temporarily closing docking stations in neighborhoods where bikes are stolen or vandalized.
Peak during school holidays
“Seasonality is an important aspect of the problem,” says Stéphane Thiébaut, manager of the self-service travel systems (Velib and Autolib) in Paris. “The number of offenses increases during school holidays. Arrests made by police show that the young people are the main perpetrators. This also complicates the prosecution.”
Stéphane Thiébaut states that vandalism is currently concentrated in the north-east of Paris. In some parts of the 18th and 19th districts several stations are currently closed.
It now seems that JCDecaux is finally fed up with the problem. Instead of expanding the number of bikes in the streets of Paris as originally planned, the company has reportedly decided to scale back. While Vélib started out with a fleet of 20,600 bicycles there will now only be 14,000 vehicles available in the Paris region, according to French daily Le Monde.
The newspaper cited information gathered from JCDecaux and tracking statistics on the Velib website. JCDecaux did not respond to queries to confirm Le Monde’s assertion.
With 14,000 Vélibs spread around Paris and its surrounding suburbs, it looks as though bikes could soon become harder to find in many neighbourhoods.