A Free-floating Fiasco? Shared Mobility in Paris

Published 18 Feb 2021
Reference 6475
Topic Strategy
Region Europe
Length 28 page(s)
Language English

This case is about shared mobility in Paris. It can be used as a stand-alone case or as a follow-on from the case study “On a Mission to Cut Emissions: Reducing the Carbon Footprint in Paris Whilst Maintaining an Efficient Transport System” by the same authors.

In 2018, Anne Hidalgo, the first woman Mayor of Paris, set out to create a greener city, free from polluting vehicles. However, her vision of shared mobility to create a more sustainable system of transport was jeopardized by the arrival of new entrants with ‘free-floating’ bike rental schemes, unlike the older ‘docking station’ system used by Velib. Parisians condemned the “fiasco” of dismantling Vélib and letting “anarchy” prevail as pavements were cluttered with abandoned bikes and scooters. The city council remained committed to encouraging this low-priced, emission-free means of transport but had to find a way to minimise the disruption.

The case describes the evolution of ‘shared mobility’ in Paris, from pioneering shared bikes in 2007, to shared electric cars in 2011, and free-floating electric motorbikes in 2016, exposing the complex issues Hidalgo faced in promoting and regulating the sector in order to harness the benefits and mitigate risk without stifling innovation. Students are able to compare and contrast the development of shared bikes in Paris, Munich and London, and the role played by the respective city authorities.

The aim is to understand the difficulties of operating a shared mobility business on a day-to-day basis and debate key issues which can arise in a public-private partnership: how far the city should authorize/regulate the entry of new mobility services; cost- and risk-sharing; length of contract; safety and liability; the obligations of providing a service with public infrastructure (including maintenance and service levels); bike theft and vandalism.

Teaching objectives

The main objective is to consider how a city manages a portfolio of innovative shared mobility projects as it adapts to changing conditions over a 10 year period, and whether Paris handled this effectively. A second objective is to understand the key issues, benefits and limitations of public-private partnerships as the female protagonist pursues her broader political agenda

  • Transport system
  • Emissions
  • Free-floating
  • Urban mobility
  • Sustainability
  • Electric cars
  • Strategy
  • Stakeholders
  • Public private partnerships
  • Process
  • Public transport
  • France
  • Bike-sharing
  • Shared mobility
  • Q12021