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Paris "share a bike" program overwhelmed by theft and vandalism from immigrants.


The elaborate public bicycle rental system quickly became a symbol of Paris and was copied by other major cities in Western Europe. However, it is already falling apart due to vandalism and theft. The culprits come from the vast suburban immigrant public housing ghettos surrounding Paris. Often referred to in the media as politically correct codewords like “youths.” These “youths” also regularly riot and commit thousands of arson a year in Paris. Many of the bicycles are appearing for sale in places like Albania and Morocco.

From New York Times…

Used mainly for commuting in the urban core of the city, the Vélib’ program is by many measures a success. After swiping a credit card for a deposit at an electronic docking station, a rider pays one euro per day, or 29 euros (about $43) for an annual pass, for unlimited access to the bikes for 30-minute periods that can be extended for a small fee.

Daily use averages 50,000 to 150,000 trips, depending on the season, and the bicycles have proved to be a hit with tourists, who help power the economy.

But the extra-solid construction and electronic docks mean the bikes, made in Hungary, are expensive, and not everyone shares the spirit of joint public property promoted by Paris’s Socialist mayor, Bertrand Delanoë.

“We miscalculated the damage and the theft,” said Albert Asséraf, director of strategy, research and marketing at JCDecaux, the outdoor-advertising company that is a major financer and organizer of the project. “But we had no reference point in the world for this kind of initiative.”

At least 8,000 bikes have been stolen and 8,000 damaged so badly that they had to be replaced — nearly 80 percent of the initial stock, Mr. Asséraf said.

JCDecaux must repair some 1,500 bicycles a day. The company maintains 10 repair shops and a workshop on a boat that moves up and down the Seine.

“We found many stolen Vélib’s in Paris’s troubled [NYT code word for “immigrant”] neighborhoods,” said Marie Lajus, a spokeswoman for the police. “It’s not profit-making delinquency, but rather young boys, especially from the suburbs, consider the Vélib’ an object that has no value.”