A strike in France seems like a contagious thing: with the rail services across the country going on strike recently, a number of other groups are walking out including public transit workers, actors, university students, and the state-run electricity company. The latter group even said they would cut power at the political offices of France’s president as well as planning “Robin Hood operations — restoring power to households that cannot afford their electricity bills,” according to the Toronto Star. North American unions seem like Boy Scouts in comparison.
But what caught my eye was a little blurb about Paris’s new city-run bike rental operation: it seems people are scooping them up to get around town. I believe the bike rental system is funded by outdoor advertising on city-owned street furniture. It is believed the City of Toronto plans to run a similar program based on a similar funding model.
From yesterday’s Star:
With Paris transit workers set to join in, the capital’s public transit authority RATP predicted there would be almost no trains on most subway routes starting Wednesday. Only one line — the north-south line 14 — was expected to run normally because it is automated.
Parisians were firming up contingency plans. Accountant Xavier Basset was preparing for a six-kilometre walk across Paris to his office.
“I’ll work on my calves,” he said.
Other Parisians will likely share cars, stay home or rent one of the more than 10,000 bikes recently installed around the capital. They proved extremely popular during another transit strike last month, when the number of daily users doubled to 180,000.
Organizers said they plan to dispatch 260 workers armed with metal cutters to snip the padlocks of people who may try to hog the bikes all day. The bikes are designed to be used for short trips, as rental prices skyrocket as the clock ticks — which is usually enough to deter riders from hoarding the bikes, although not on strike days.
Motorcycle taxis, able to weave through snarled traffic, also looked like a good solution. Managers for two motorcycle taxi services said they were completely booked through early Friday.
photo by Evan Austin