City of Paris to begin bike-sharing program

Ah, Paris. The sex tape! The jail time! Wait, wait … wrong Paris. Ahem. The croissants! The berets! The phallic tower! And now: the free bikes! By mid-July, 10,648 bicycles will show up in 750 stations across The City of Love, allowing riders to pick them up and drop them off at a different destination. By 2008, the city hopes to provide nearly twice that many two-wheeled transports. A pre-paid card or credit card will unlock a bicycle from a station; a 30-minute ride is free, and every additional half-hour costs one euro, or about $1.33. Riders can also rent bikes weekly for five euros, or yearly for a ridiculously low 29 euros. “We hope car use will diminish and that people will opt to take a bicycle or the bus,” says a City Hall spokes-Parisian. Some are concerned about safety — France does not require bike helmets — but the program has been effective in other European cities. And what’s to worry about? It’s just like the Tour de France, minus the doping.