Paris, Lyon and Marseille Embrace Electric Bicycles


Paris to offer 10,000 electric bikes for rent

The Île-de-France Paris region will make 10 000 electric bicycles available for rent from September this year. Monthly rental will account for 40 euros per month.

This is in line with market estimates (read more about long term rentals in this post). The initial trial period will run for six months.

It is the “world’s largest long-term electric bike rental market”. Valérie Pécresse, the President of the Long Term rentals of the Ile-de-France region. The region has announced early March further expansion of its e-bike long term rental business. This time it will involve 10 000 electric bicycles and rental price of 40 euros per month. The test period for this stage will run for six months.

This is the next step the Bike Plan launched in May 2017 to “develop the practice of cycling on a daily basis”. The rental program will start in September this year.

This offer, called Véligo, is developed with Île-de-France Mobilités (former transport union of Île-de-France), La Poste, Transdev, and two companies Velogik and Cyclez, which will be responsible for bicycle servicing and maintenance.

Postal e-bike, but improved

These newly available electric bicycles can be rented at 200 rental stations, including major train stations and post offices.

“It is the electric bicycle of the postal workers, improved”, with batteries to recharge “at home”, explained Mrs. Pécresse. Her goal is to help Parisians “discover electric bikes”, in the Paris region “where the landscape goes up and down. “

This long term rental system is an alternative to purchasing your own electric bike, which is still quite expensive. How much does it cost to own an e-bike? Read in this post. “We are providing this opportunity to those, who cannot buy their own e-bike, we are providing this opportunity to the suburbs,” she promised.

The city of Paris Cycling Plan aims to triple the volume of cycling trips by 2021, reaching 2 million daily trips. Currently, “only 2% of the daily commutes of the Parisians are by bike,” Mrs. Pécresse regretted, while two-thirds of trips in the Île-de-France “have a range of fewer than three kilometers.”

Easy E-Biking - Help with the purchase of electric bike: + 81% of requests in Paris in two years

Develop itineraries “for everyday life”

Backing the State’s Bike Plan of 350 million euros over seven years, Valérie Pécresse believes that the region is “the best echelon” to “ensure territorial coherence.”

The region wants to develop routes “focused on the daily, commuting to work”, serving stations, high schools, and business and office areas,” said Ms. Pécresse, as well as needed “services to the bicycle users (service, repair, parking, bike-school, etc…)”.

How to select an e-bike for daily commutes? Read more in this post. How to select the best city e-bike? Read more in this post.

Between 2016 and March 2019, 64 million euros were invested in creating cycling infrastructure, according to Ms. Pécresse. This includes the financing of bicycle pathways or “shared pathways” (591 km), and bike parking spaces (overall 17 000 parking places, including 10 000 for the Véligo by the end of 2019).

There are opposite views as well. The opposition ecologist and socialist of the AES group reacts that “the investment deficit on the bicycle policy has already accumulated significantly since 2015. Only support of the cycling equipment alone has a deficit of “25 million euros”.

Some of the long-existing bicycle rental services in Paris are still not up to speed under the new operator, although promises 50% of its fleet to be electric. Read more in this post.

Aid to purchase e-bikes in Paris grew 81% in two years

The city of Paris offered up to 400 € towards purchasing of an e-bike. And this generated long waiting lists.

The financial assistance for the acquisition of electric bicycles proposed by the City of Paris is a victim of its success. Applications increased by 81% between 2016 and 2018, from 7511 in 2016 to 13,595 in 2018. This demand generated long lines to the municipal services.

Some Parisians are waiting for the actual payment of this sum, capped at 400 € (33% of the price), since a few months. “This interest has resulted in an extension of processing time in 2018, recognizes the City of Paris.

A reorganization of the services took place at the end of 2018, making it possible to reduce the waiting time to less than 3 months. In the meantime, the government has stopped its € 200 aid boost in February 2018.

Cargo e-bikes and certain scooters are eligible

Since October 2018, the perimeter of mobility aids of the city hall of Paris has extended to other types of vehicles, beyond e-bikes.

The bonus can be obtained (provided you are domiciled in Paris) for conversion kits, transforming a traditional bike into an electric bike, low-power electric scooters, and acquisition of electric or non-electric cargo bikes (up to 600 € for individuals and 1200 € for professionals). Can traditional bikes be converted into e-bikes? Read in this post.

Traditional electric scooters are still not eligible. All the files are to be deposited on-line via Paris.fr (link to the Paris.fr site).

Easy E-Biking - helping to make electric biking practical and fun

Long-term rent an electric bike in Lyon? Why not?

More and more French communities are offering long-term electric bike rentals. Let’s take a look at what is available in Lyon.

A fee of 50 or 60 euros, depending on the duration of the rent. This is what it would cost to somebody living in Lyon and vicinity to rent an electric bike for a month.

As more and more other communities (for example, La Rochelle, Strasbourg, Grenoble or the Ile-de-France), the Metropolis of Lyon has decided to launch, a little less than a year ago, an offer for long-term e-bike rentals. Initially, 100 electric bicycles are put into service, with another 400 e-bikes to be added in coming September. During the course of 2019, 500 new e-bikes will join this park, through a partnership with a local operator Cyclable.

“This service is a real success,” says Lyon local representative. In particular with those, living on three hills of Lyon (La Duchère, Fourvière or Croix-Rousse). “An electric-assisted bicycle is a very interesting solution that can help change habits. This works particularly well for the trips of less than 3 kilometers. “

The use of traditional and electric bikes is growing fast in Lyon and the surrounding area since 2010. Trips have increased by 10% between 2017 and 2018, with 25 million bicycle trips recorded across the territory by the metropolitan counters.

Testing an e-bike for up to a year

Electric bike long-term rentals are currently limited to one-year max duration. “The aim of this offer is really to make people aware of the idea that cycling is a very effective means of mobility,” says the Metropolis.

Twelve months is enough time to test the usefulness and effectiveness of an electric bicycle. At 50 euros per month, it is then more advantageous to buy your own e-bike or, possibly to lease one, as more and more companies start to offer such service – rather than continue to rent.

In 2018, the Greater Lyon area has also established an aid of 100 euros for the purchase of electric assistance bicycles, new or used, “in order to help the inhabitants to take the plunge”. This financial aid could make a bit of difference when the average price of an electric bike is estimated at 1500 euros.

To allow more and more people to test electric bicycles, Lyon’s self-service bike rental system (Vélo’v) is also expected to start offering e-bike rental service by 2020.

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E-bike rentals to be available in Marseille

Currently, around one thousand bikes are available in self-service in the streets of downtown Marseille.

While the current public contract between Marseille metro area and
JC Decaux, which provides bike rental services will come to an end in 2021, the future of the Marseille city mobility is emerging with electric assistance bicycles.

Self-service electric bikes from 2021 in Marseille?

In a city with such hilly topography, from La Plaine to Périer, from the Boulevard de la Libération to Luminy via Saint-Charles, moving 20 kg of steel is enough to discourage even the most daring. In 2017 JC Decaux launched a system of “bonus stations”, which would give a bonus of up to two hours of free rental, if the riders would deposite their two-wheelers in one of the terminals, located on the heights of the city. But this does not seem to encourage many riders to do so.

However, the 15-year public contract signed between Marseille city and JC Decaux in 2006 will come to an end in October 2021. The city officials, who responsible for the management of mobility are raising questions. “We would like to improve the current offer. It is true that with the electric bikes, the proposition would be much better and it would be better adapted to the topology of Marseille”, confirms Roland Blum, deputy delegate for mobility.

“But it would be necessary to do the experiments, to see how it works and what it costs… All that can be part of the debate for the specifications that will then go out for a tender”. Invitation for a tender needs to be completed six months before the expiry of the public contract. “It’s very soon, it is tomorrow!”, says the deputy.

And among the companies determined to take part in the negotiations, the current provider JC Decaux. “This is an important market for the company,” says Yvon Luciani, Director of Operations at JC Decaux in charge of managing the bike services. “My job is to ensure optimum service for our customers and maintain the fleet of 1,000 bikes in perfect condition,” he says. And, ultimately, the task now is to win the future tender, based on the criteria that will be chosen by the city of Marseille.

JC Decaux, which is a leader in outdoor advertising, is particularly interested in the self-service electric bicycle. “We know how to do it,” says Yvon Luciani, who takes the example of Lyon, where the company won the market in September 2017. There could be two different approaches. And the first one is providing e-bikes with fixed batteries, which would be directly recharged on freshly installed terminals.

We shall plan it next month

The other option would be to have removable battery-powered bikes, which are rented by riders. On arrival at the bike station, riders would place their recharged batteries directly on the e-bikes. “Such batteries are of a size of a smartphone that the riders can recharge at home,” says Yvon Luciani. He also argues that JC Decaux will be able to extend the scope of e-bike self-service in the future, while the demand to open new stations continues to climb.

In March that the city of Marseille will appoint the Project Owner, who will be helping the city to start defining parameters of the offer. The Project Owner will provide the report to the city in October next year, “and from there we will be able to launch tender process,” explains Roland Blum.

From then on, the different competing companies will be able to position themselves and answer the call for proposals. JC Decaux will be one of the candidates. But the company will have to compete with other companies specializing in the sector. JC Decaux has lost the “Vélib” contract in Paris to Smovengo consortium not so long time ago…

This post was partially translated from French and adapted. The original versions were published on Ouest France, La Provence and Le Parisian. Photo credit – public domain.

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