Earlier this month, Paris’ beloved leftist mayor Bertrand Delanoë announced plans to begin a city-wide car-share program, which will be modeled after Paris’ current (and wholly successful) bike-share program, Vélib. All I can say is, “yikes.”
I just returned from a month–long séjour in France, and tested out a similar version of the Paris pedaling program in Lyon, which is actually where the idea of a cheap, advertising-subsidized plan was created. The concept, in my opinion, is pure genius. The program clears up traffic congestion, reduces carbon emissions, and allows tourists to get a more authentic look into the city’s culture. It’s amazing how much more of the city you can see when traveling above ground. Plus, I managed to avoid paying anything by returning my bike every 30 minutes and exchanging it for another one. (The first 30 minutes are free.) That, my friends, is also pure genius.
That said, the idea of using the same system with cars is daft. It turns a smart, eco-friendly idea into a messy, untested nightmare. Monsieur Delanoë should let this concept sink shamefully back to the drawing board.
The Voiturelib’ program (known officially as Automobiles-en-Libre-Service) would use around 2,000 small electric cars that would be available at stations around the city. The idea is to reduce traffic backup and carbon emissions. However, Paris is not a city made for driving. According to an article on the UK’s Times Online, only 43 percent of Parisians have cars, and at any given time, 95 percent of the cars are parked. There is little need for cars in a city with the Métro, a bus system, and the beloved Vélib.
And if the idea is to cater to tourists, well, the idea doesn’t get many more positive points in that department, either. Handing over keys to foreigners unfamiliar with the wacky Parisian way of driving is truly dangerous. While many American tourists might adore this idea because of its convenience and familiarity, that still doesn’t make it a good idea. Enjoy Paris for what it is, a city meant for public — and communal — transportation. Hop on and off a bike all day, embrace the metro lines and buses, but please, just say no to keys.