Thieves Took Your Bike? Lamp-pole It

Urban bike riders know the hazards, leave it for a minute unlocked, unchained or with any removable part not super-glued to the frame and your beloved keep-fit free transport provider will be gone for ever.

Cycling is a national religion on which bike thieves prey


In Paris according to a Le Figaro report 4000-6000 bikes were stolen in 2011 an increase of 37.41% over the previous year. The French Ministry of Sustainable Development insists the theft stats are diminishing but has nevertheless released a 5-point plan for keeping your bike safe.

One solution it failed to mention was parking your bike out of easy reach of the wheel thieves, high up a lamp-post for instance, as this German video suggests.

Clever idea but its not immediately clear what French city bylaws might say about hundreds of bikes left dangling in the air not to mention the aesthetics of it.  The German firm marketing the idea also has no response to concerns about double (triple or quadruple) parking.  How soon you may well ask, before big cities witness lamp pole congestion or traffic wardens touting ladders to ticket over-stayers?

However unless you are a dedicated Tour de France aspirant why bother owning a bike when in France’s main cities you can just hop on and off cheap hire bikes found  in convenient bike bays dotted around the city?

Paris, Aix en Provence, Amiens, Besançon, Cergy, Lyon, Marseille, Mulhouse, Nancy, Nantes,  Rouen, Toulouse, Orléans, Dijon, Caen, Perpignan to mention just some, all offer a Vélib (short for Vélo en Libre Service) or  bike-sharing service.

In Toulouse , with its large student population, the service is so popular that according to some eyewitness accounts, parking congestion now affects certain of the more popular bike stands.

Enterprising mobile phone users have thus designed Ipad/IPhone apps that offer real time information about which drop-off spots have an available rack for the bike you just hopped on for the early morning ride home from that late-night disco or party.

An iPhone App that helps late night revellers find a bike parking spot

(For German-speakers, a longer version of the clip showing the engineering development, is here)

One downside to the popularity of the service is that vandals have joined in and according to Le Figaro:  “In late 2009, studies showed that 80% of the 20,600 Vélib then in place in Paris had  been the target of theft or vandalism. The Prefecture of Police suggested that given the number of bikes stolen – both Vélib and private property  –  an organized trafficking network might be responsible. That would not surprise  many Parisians who have already come across ‘liberated’  Vélibs on the Normandy coast, in Eastern Europe and even in Benin.”

Velib bycicles in Paris near metro Cité (Stati...

Velib bicycles in Paris near metro Cité (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here in English is how the scheme works in Paris, and the rules are basically the same wherever the service is available across the country.

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One Response to Thieves Took Your Bike? Lamp-pole It

  1. Pingback: 100th Tour de France – Its a Medieval Affair | FrenchNewsOnline

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