Lovely readers: who here has used Vélib? And more to the point, who’s gamed it?

9 responses to “Vélibertarians”

  1. tma says :

    I’ve used it pretty frequently. The only legal way I can think of to game it is to make long trips in short hops from station to station, so that you never have a bike out for longer than 30 minutes (the first 30 minutes are free).

    That might be more trouble than it’s worth, though, because totally empty Velib racks are not an uncommon sight, it takes a few minutes for the checking-out transaction (unless you’ve got a swipe card) and it’s definitely necessary to check the viability of a new bike before you remove it from its holster. I’ve seen bikes with flat tires, un-fixably loose seats and baskets, and slipped chains.

  2. AG says :

    Yep, it’s the 29-minute hack I’m interested in – I’m wondering if there’s anything like a wiki or a guerrilla map of how to suture multiple free jaunts together into effective arterial routes. Not that 29 minutes shouldn’t take you clear across Paris in the first place.

  3. Tom Taylor says :

    It’s actually quite difficult to game unless you know Paris inside out. Sometimes, when returning a bike, you’ll find the rack you were aiming for is full, and you’ll have to divert to another – pushing you over the 30 min limit.

  4. Peter Cooper says :

    This visualization tool of Velib bikes might be a place to start. It seems you can get the data and then plot it, so there might be a good way to work out the patterns of usage, where bikes are left at what times, and so forth algorithmically.

  5. AG says :

    Excellent! Thanks for the insight, all – and Peter, that’s exactly what I had in mind.

  6. padawan says :

    I use them occasionally when I’ve not got my own bike at hand. You can almost cross Paris from side to side in 30 mn (ok, not from all sides ;-) so it’s quite easy to move around without paying more than the flat subscription fee.

    One new variable though, to get people to move bikes to certain stations (usually those on heights that are always emptied in the morning and where people never get back to), you will soon be able get an extra 15 min bonus if you return your bike on those stations. Those bikers who have the annual subscription card can even cumulate free time if they return their bike in less than the extra 15 min bonus time (in addition to the first free 30 mins).

  7. AG says :

    Aha! That’s brilliant…and it makes the notion of “economic geography” so concrete.

Trackbacks / Pingbacks

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