Vélib’, the world's third largest bike share service, will be expanding into uncharted territory this summer: the toddler market. The Parisian system launched a new bike rental program for kids on Wednesday. According to a spokesperson for the city of Paris, it will be the first program of its kind in the world.
P'tit Vélib' will offer 300 bikes in four different sizes for kids 2 to 10 years old (as well as helmets). Options include a balance bike without pedals or a chain for toddlers, bikes with training wheels for young kids, and a 20-inch-tall version of Vélib's traditional gray bike for older kids.
Full-on bike share this is not. The tot-sized bikes will only be available at five different spots around the city--strategically placed near public parks and pedestrian-only areas--and parents will have to return each bike to the same station it was rented from. A few more rental stations will open later this summer. Each will have an employee on duty, and will largely only be open on weekends, holidays, and during school vacations.
The bikes will also be more expensive. According to Businessweek, the kid-sized bikes will cost up to $20 for a single day, compared to the adult bike-share program, which costs only $39 for an annual unlimited pass and just $2.30 for a one-day ticket. Prices for kids vary based on the location of the rental, and can be purchased by the hour, half-day, or day.
Limited though the program may be, there seems to be a market for expanding the accessibility of bike share to little ones. With only adult-sized bike rentals available, cycle-eager parents have to resort to building their own modified child seats (in violation of many bike shares' terms of service) or just throwing their offspring over the handlebars (also a major rule violation, and accident waiting to happen). Petit as the P'tit Vélib' program will be, we can only hope that kid-friendly bike share becomes the latest way Americans become obsessed with imitating the French.