12. Velo’V, the lyonnais VLS


The Grand Lyon (urban community of Lyon) is asking itself how to reach two goals:

1)      How to reduce by 10% the intensity of circulation at rush hour, knowing that the switch fluidity/saturation depends on more or less 5 to 10% ?

2)      How to improve air quality, which is very polluted by motorized vehicle congestion?



The urban community has decided to try the experience of self-service bikes (VLSs) offered by JCDecaux in addition to its urban furniture for advertising, on thebasis of the success in Vienna, in Austria, Gijon and Cordoba in Spain. The idea is that spirits are mature enough for a “gentle” solution, which is to say nonpolluting, even if it is a bit slower. We are in 2004, the effect of the Grenelle environment bill shall only start in 2007. The launch is held on the 19th of May 2005.



  • 4.000 bikes over 347 station (Lyon and Villeurbanne, then the network extends to Caluire and Vaux-en-velin, near the underground stations)
  • Enabling the 60.000 subscribers (which represents 10% of the population) of the zone covered to travel 60 000km/day, with 64% of trips from home to work.
  • Which represents 58 million kilometers driven per year for 28 million rentals.
  • In 2010, the share of bike travels doubled compared to 2005, with 2.5% of the total, and the share of motorized vehicles reduced from 57% to 47%.
  • In 2012, according to a survey conducted on over forty self-service bike systems in 18 European countries, the Vélo’V of Lyon is first place for quality service. This survey combined 4 criterions: accessibility, information, easy rental and quality of the bikes.[1]


Key points :

  • The quality of the whole “integrated product+service” is successful because the simplicity of the rental, the rapid information on smartphones on where stations are located where bikes are available or where spaces are available are essential.
  • The solidity of the bike and its accessories (including the electronic system) is such that the rate of repair is low (1 repair for 300 uses whereas vandalism concerns 10% of the repairs)
  • Contrary to an expressed worry numerous times, attachment to property is not at all an obstacle to developing the sale of usage as self-service bikes (VLSs) allow to remove three brakes stopping the use of bikes in town (home parking, theft and maintenance of a personal bike). This case study, like others contributes to show that.
  • Consequently, and as in other cases, functional service economics opens up a very innovative market, difficult to promote in the traditional model of selling goods. VLS users would not have bought bikes. The bike is an invention, the VLS in an innovation.
  • This activity created 60 jobs, over the Lyon region and enabled to reuse buses reformed from commercial service, such as Renault R312 that were transformed into mobile maintenance units.

For JCDecaux, the concluded contract over 13 years enabled a significant increase in the number of advertising supports (bus shelters, other supports such as MUPI); this innovation enabled JCDecaux to avoid trivializing their offer, synonymous to the war of prices.


Social and economic aspects

The choice of Grand Lyon could have been to distribute, subject to following guidelines, to freely distribute a bike to a certain amount of the population.

Indeed, the cost of the operation for Grand Lyon is 50 million euros over 8 years. A bike made in China could have been bought for 50€. 1 million bikes could have been bought over the period, probably in two installments of 500.000 to take into account the necessary renewal to compensate the lack of quality and especially the unsuitability of usage.

This 50 million would have completely left France without any way to return.

The Velo’V has enabled to create 60 jobs over the Lyon region and design and manufacturing jobs within the Lyon company Mercier and the Portuguese company Orbita.

The transferred sums to these companies, refer mainly to work carried out in France and Portugal, contributing to maintain the French-European economic cycle, taking into account the level of implementation of the EU member states.

They have served to stimulate innovation, maintain and develop skills, contribute to crossover to the “the world after”, the world that shall see a low rate of dependency on material resources and shall privilege added value, intelligence.

Many thanks to Gilles Vesco, Vice-president of the Grand Lyon community for the information provided and his enthusiasm to make progress the Lyon community towards “ the world after”.


[1] http://www.lefigaro.fr/actualite-france/2012/06/27/01016-20120627ARTFIG00454-nos-systemes-de-velos-en-libre-service-bien-classes-en-europe.php


* * * * *