• We asked our readers what they thought of the Velib' service while the Velib' union is threatening its service provider Smovengo with several million euros in penalties if it does not straighten the handlebars quickly.

  • A total of 161 contributions were sent, negative in nearly 80% of cases.

    Our readers criticize “crappy” and “pathetic” service.

  • Pell-mell, they denounce, poorly maintained Vélib', stations either full or empty, abusive overcharging or even customer service not up to scratch.

    Faced with the difficulties, many regret the former provider JCDecaux.

In the midst of a showdown between the Vélib' Autolib' Métropole (SVAM) union and its service provider Smovengo, we asked our readers what they thought of the Velib' service.

And it was an avalanche of contributions that fell on

20 Minutes

with no less than 161. We are not going to make the suspense last any longer, negative opinions largely prevail with 79.5% (128 responses) of contributions for 15.5% mixed reviews and only 5% satisfied users.

Some readers do not mince their words like Sylvain who assures that "the service is shitty" or Barbara who considers it "pathetic".

What comes up most often is a poor distribution of bikes in the stations.

This is what prompted Hervé to cancel his subscription.

“Taking a bike in a station has become mission impossible, it is easy to do ten to succeed in getting one.

“Flora abounds:” Many stations are either systematically full, or systematically empty, and it is clear that there is no regulation.


If Sylvain Raifaud, the president of the SVAM, intends to use Smovengo, he expects to use two levers to rebalance all that.

“We are going to increase the number of Stations Plus where it is possible to drop off your Velib' by attaching it with a cable.

We conducted an experiment since April on 11 stations and it went rather well.

He also wants to develop the Bonus Minutes to "encourage users to drop off Vélib' at empty stations and take those from overloaded stations".

This should also be the case when the user takes a bicycle attached to a cable in Station Plus.

Falls due to a failure of Vélib'

Regarding the condition of the bikes, Thomas indicates that it "is rare not to have bad surprises from the first pedal strokes, bent wheels, badly fixed pedals, empty battery, faulty brakes, a real permanent danger".

Aware of the problem, Sylvain Raifaud does not rule out Smovengo's responsibilities but recalls that there are "300,000 subscribers for 20,000 Vélib'" hence increased wear and tear.

Nevertheless, due to the poor condition of the bikes, some users have had accidents like Lola who says: "I had a serious accident due to a failure of the bike: the front wheel came off completely while I was riding and I did a glide in the middle of the street.

Same thing for Raphaël who announces hundreds of trips to his credit and estimates that "50 to 80% of the bikes are unusable in the station":

“I fell on a wet road because the chain of my Vélib', badly maintained, had jumped in a climb where I was pedaling.


This observed poor maintenance also has an impact on users since the limitation to two daily trips of electrically assisted bicycles (VAE) to prevent delivery people from overusing them.

"Two trips a day even at 45 minutes, when we are often forced to return the bike after five minutes because of a malfunction, it's making fun of the world", denounces Pierre.

Because indeed, it must be relocated before 3 minutes of use so that the journey is not counted.

However, as Jean-Marie points out, “it often takes more than 3 minutes to determine that an e-bike is defective and to put it back in the station”.

Consequence for Nathalie: “You discover that your subscription no longer costs 8.30 euros but more than double!

“I am very shocked by the inefficiency of customer service”

And when it comes to customer service, it's an obstacle course according to our readers.

Olivier denounces "a certain contempt for the client and an inability to manage problematic cases".

For example, the Vélib' that cling badly to the terminals at the end of the journey give rise to overbilling that it is difficult to get reimbursed.

"It cost me 45 euros extra after my bike [poorly attached] circled Paris several times in 24 hours in the hands of someone else," says Jacques.

Obviously, an email from me was not enough to get me reimbursed.

Florence, for her part, is not losing her temper: "I am very shocked by the inefficiency of customer service,

extremely difficult to contact in the event of a problem and who proves to be absolutely incapable of bringing any positive solution to all our requests".

Finally Timothée saw the seat post give way suddenly.

Result: “I found myself on the ground with my pants torn and my leg bleeding.

Luckily nothing broken or passing car at the time.

I got 1 euro compensation.


Faced with this situation, many of our readers regret the period of the old provider.

Daniel summarizes: “in 1 month with Smovengo I had as many problems as with JCDecaux in nine years”.

“Certainly there were problems with this service provider too, nuance Emmanuel.

But nothing compared to the hell I'm going through because of Smovengo.

For Sammy, "it is clear that since the takeover of Smovengo, the Vélib' service has experienced a marked deterioration".

In terms of maintenance, Raphaël remembers that we “often saw JCDecaux technicians come to repair the Vélib' or restock the stations.

In three years of use and hundreds of trips, I haven't seen a single technician take care of or return a bike to a Smovengo station.


"The quality of service has improved"

The interview given by the president of Smovengo to Le


went rather badly with our contributors dissatisfied with the service.

“When the president of Smovengo says: “if our service was so bad, our customers would desert”, it makes me furious, writes Alexis.

I would so love to desert, but for who else?

There are no competitors!

And it is very expensive to finance an electric bike.

" Lucile tempers these criticisms: "Honestly it's fine, it's much better than it was and we have to stop saying that before [with JCDecaux] it was better, because it's not true, it's It's just that we had lower expectations.

It is true that JCDecaux did not have to supply VAEs, which require much greater logistics.

“I find that the number of problems has decreased considerably over the past few months, even believes Azzedine.

Similarly, the new application offers interesting features, such as rating the bike after the race.

The same goes for David who "notes that the quality of service has improved all the same".

Clément considers that “Vélib' is an unbeatable service in terms of value for money” while Philippe “recommends Velib'”.

"Vélib' has always been a symbol of freedom"

In the end, most of our readers remain attached to the service and those who criticize it feel a certain bitterness.

"I gradually stopped relying on this means of transport," says Laure.

And I'm very sad about it, because I still think it's a great idea for urban mobility.

» Similarly for Paul, « Vélib' has always been a symbol of freedom » and because of failures « is very, very far from this feeling ».

"It's really sad and almost hopeless to see that a clean means of transport that opens up great prospects for the future and benefits everyone has turned into a real fiasco so quickly," laments Raphaël.

Our file on the Velib'

While waiting for a possible improvement, some adapt like Olivier.

“You have to know how to look at the number of the Velib', he explains.

In general, the 42,000 + and 50,000 + series run quite well.

A welcome tip.

Others think like Hamid, that "the best solution would be the termination of the contract" while some start to dream, like Sylvain, of a "public bicycle service available".


Ile-de-France Mobilités unites with Vélib'


Paris: Electric Vélib' prices will soon increase

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