The French capital recently unveiled P’tit Velib, which offers four models aimed at children two to eight years old. “La Draisienne,” the smallest, has no pedals. The largest has a 20-inch frame and looks like a cut-down version of the standard grey Velib bike. Prices start at €4 ($5.44) an hour.
In bike-friendly European cities, it’s common to see very young cyclists and the P’tit Velib website talks of the need to get kids riding young. “Because good habits begin early, the mayor of Paris wishes to familiarize children with using more environmentally friendly modes of transport, and from a young age,” it says.
The bikes are currently available in seven central locations, including the Zoo and the Bois de Boulogne. Helmets are on hand if parents want them (though they’re not mandatory). Service hours run from mid-morning to 7 p.m. (unlike the adult scheme which goes round the clock).
Though Paris wasn’t the first city to introduce bike sharing, its model of clunky bikes stored in electronic docks has been widely copied (notably in places like London and New York). Velib now has more than 23,000 bikes, including suburban locations, making it the third-largest worldwide after two Chinese programs.
It will be interesting to see if other cities now follow Paris’s lead by reaching out to kids. They’re bound to be watching closely.