05 November 2009

A Tale of Two Wheels

Shortly before we left Dijon to return to the United States, I noticed the city installing here and there bicycle racks, which were soon filled row on row with shiny new expensive vélos. It was the new Vélib' system, first implemented in Paris: the government provides the bikes, you rent them for a small fee, ride around anywhere you like for as long as you like, then park them back at any Vélib' station in town. The point, one presumes, is to reduce carbon emissions (and perhaps promote physical fitness on the side). But for all the government's good intentions, things don't seem to be working out so well.

Jared Taylor gives the details:
Alas, the people who set up what’s known as the Vélib’ system forgot that Paris is not all yuppies and tourists. Certain Parisians, for example, burn cars for sport. July 14th, Bastille Day, is a favorite day for it, and this year, despite stepped-up patrols and 240 arrests, immigrant “youths” reduced 317 cars to cinders—a new record. New Year’s Eve is another time for burnt offerings, and the national total in January was 1,147—a few percent off the all-time record but still up by eight percent.

With even just a few of these “youth” about, you can be sure that sturdy, $3,500 bicycles that you can rent with the swipe of a stolen credit card are not always going to come back. About 40 percent of the initial fleet of 20,600 bikes have been stolen and another 40 percent have been burned or busted beyond repair. Bikes are showing up in Eastern Europe and even back home in North Africa, and the company that operates Vélib’ has to fix 1,500 smashed up bikes every day.

No one even pretends not to know who is doing the smashing. Bruno Marzloff, reported to be a sociologist of transportation, concedes that most of the thieves and vandals are angry African immigrants. “It is an outcry, a form of rebellion; this violence is not gratuitous,” he says. It’s no doubt all in the spirit of that favorite graffito of the immigrant suburbs, Nique la France (F*** France).

Restive youths engaging in a wholesome and productive pastime

If my calculations are correct, 40% would work out to a little under $29 million. Zut alors! The French are surely pleased to know their tax dollars are funding the vandalism of these hooligans.

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