"On July 15, the day after Bastille Day, Parisians will wake up to discover thousands of low-cost rental bikes at hundreds of high-tech bicycle stations scattered throughout the city, an ambitious program to cut traffic, reduce pollution, improve parking and enhance the city's image as a greener, quieter, more relaxed place.
By the end of the year, organizers and city officials say, there should be 20,600 bikes at 1,450 stations -- or about one station every 250 yards across the entire city. Based on experience elsewhere -- particularly in Lyon, France's third-largest city, which launched a similar system two years ago -- regular users of the bikes will ride them almost for free.
"It has completely transformed the landscape of Lyon -- everywhere you see people on the bikes," said Jean-Louis Touraine, the city's deputy mayor. The program was meant "not just to modify the equilibrium between the modes of transportation and reduce air pollution, but also to modify the image of the city and to have a city where humans occupy a larger space."
The Socialist mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delano?, has the same aim, said his aide, Jean-Luc Dumesnil: "We think it could change Paris's image -- make it quieter, less polluted, with a nicer atmosphere, a better way of life.""