Bikes from Gunnebo to Paris

I’ve just come back from another cycle ride to Gunnebo House. This time I took K with me and he had to confess he loved it as much as I did. As the house is situated in a cultural reserve we explored beyond the house and gardens. The area is surrounded by two lakes and deciduous woodlands. There is a bathing area, a bog overgrown with birch trees, pastures, woods and perhaps most excitingly… potholes. As we managed to miss the last and exciting element we’re going to have to go back. However I’m not counting this as a hardship!

K has been telling me all about Paris and the bike scheme there Vélib. It sounds great. It’s cheap, it’s everywhere and it’s used. Perhaps the only drawback is the lack of bike lanes in the city and the lack of bike parking for people who own their own bikes. However it sounds strides ahead of any British city so I’ll give the Parisians a big thumbs up for their efforts with sustainable travel.

Sadly however Vélib is owned by big business ( JCDecaux) and not the people. In short the deal was one city wide bike scheme in exchange for exclusive management of the city’s billboards. If you think it sounds a bit dodgy- this isn’t the first and it won’t be the last. The whole thing raises questions about ownership and management of sustainable transport, the role of advertising and the possibility that through pursuit of profit big business may actually (as a byproduct) produce philanthropic results. It also raised questions about why city officials can’t instigate and run such a scheme and why they need big business to do it for them. Above all it’s important that we know who is running things in our cities and why.

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