The Bicycle Diaries

Check out The Bicycle Diaries streaming audio program on the BBC, the first installment of a three-part series looking at bicycle culture throughout the world. Here’s the description form the BBC website:

This three – part series illustrates how the bicycle is used today and what impact it has on people’s lives.

With more than a billion models worldwide, the bicycle has found a place in every society.

Since its invention in 1817 people have redesigned and used the bike for hundreds of different purposes.

From sporting events and policing the streets to sharpening knives and selling ice cream.

Using a lot of leg power, the Bicycle Diaries journeys into three different places around the world to discover the communities and people for whom two wheels are better than four.

Programme one visits Paris, France where a new bicycle transit system called the Velib has been installed.

Twenty thousand bikes have been made available and can be used free of charge for up to half an hour per ride.

They allow Parisians and tourists alike to get from A to B at their own pace, and to rediscover the beauty of the city at the same time.

The montage of voices in the programme include the Velib’s designer and Parisian residents.

They talk about the bicycle’s design features, how they use the system, the journeys they take, and how has the Velib has changed the city.

Enjoy! (And think warm, sunny, happy thoughts….)


4 responses to “The Bicycle Diaries

  1. Looks neat! I wanted to rent a Velib’ the last time I was in Paris, but couldn’t convince my travel companions to do it. Will be interesting to hear how the program is working out.

  2. The Village Scribe

    I think the Velib program in Paris has been a huge success, if for no other reason than for all the bike-sharing programs it has inspired elsewhere. Small-scale bike-sharing programs can be implemented so easily and in such a variety of ways, particularly in smaller communities (for example, not only in small towns but also on university campuses and in industrial parks). We’ve got to get more city and community leaders on board with these sorts of initiatives by demonstrating the positive impact they can have on an entire area, the benefits extending to far more people than simply those who actually make use of the bikes. Check out The Bike-Sharing Blog to learn more about some of the bike-sharing programs and efforts presently underway in the US.

  3. Hi,
    I’m from Bowdoin College in Maine and we have a bike share program as well (link:

    Our program costs members $15 for a full year membership and its sole purpose is to act as a communal bike sharing program. We paint the bikes yellow and leave them locked up at campus bike racks. Any member of the YBC is emailed a four digit combination every two weeks or so (changed to prevent theft/sharing). The bikes are allowed off campus as long as they come back at the end of the trip. Inventory is performed every two weeks by a team of approx. eight members (including two trained student mechanics) who go out, find the bikes, check/change combos, pump air, lube chains, check brakes, etc. The club employs these student mechanics and pays them for hours spent repairing the bikes. However, the bike club is run by student volunteers who meet weekly to discuss new PR ideas, make sure the bikes are in good repair, etc.

    Anyway, that’s our deal. Thanks for the post, it was incredibly informative.

    • Hi Jackie. Thanks so much for stopping by and for sharing with us the details of Bowdoin’s bike-share program. It sounds like a terrific setup. I keep meaning to get back to my list of bike-sharing programs (I’ve just added Bowdoin YBC to the list) and to continue writing profiles. My ultimate goal was to get a sense of “best practices” and then see what, if anything, I could do to get a bike-sharing program up and running at my college, or at least something appropriate to the size of our school and town.

      Good luck! It’s a great thing you’re doing. Drop by and let us know how things are going from time to time (both the good and bad).