Monday, December 15, 2008

Getting Around Town

When Ben and Danis arrived in Paris recently at Gare du Nord on the Eurostar, the queue for taxis was about 200 yards long. Having lived in Paris for a year, Ben knew his way around and he and Dan grabbed a couple of the €1 public bikes just outside the station and set off to their hotel near the Place Vendôme. It’s a great way to get around, although you do take your life in your hands with Parisian driving.

I would like to see this tried in New Zealand. I think it would be an enormous hit particularly in our smaller, tourist-oriented towns where traffic is light anyway.

One of my favorite cities in the world is Montreal (a great place to eat, drink, and watch ice hockey). It has a terrific public bike system nicknamed Bixi. It’s really state of the art. The module bike racks are all Web enabled and solar powered (although I’m not sure how much sun you get in Montreal in winter.) The bicycles are designed to resist the inevitable public thrashing they get everyday and are equipped with special tags so they are easy to track and trace. From a sustainability point of view, this is one of the great ideas that we need to see being adopted in more and more cities.