By Sam Grawe, DWELL , Dec. 2009

“If you travel a lot and pay attention to changes in the urban landscape, there is one obvious addition to almost every truly modern city: the bicycle. While bicycles have been present in some form on our streets since their invention, credit the French Vélib’ program for their popular resurgence. The Parisian Vélib’ will be the reference point for smart urban transportation in the 21st century and stands as an icon of timeless design today.

“There are currently 20,000 of these bikes on the streets of Paris—–and another 3,000 in the suburbs. You can ride them for a little over a dollar a day, and ridership is estimated at about 78,000 trips per day. Now that’s a real solution for traffic, pollution, mobility, health, community, efficiency, and fun.

“Maybe what I like most about the Vélib’ is that it is humble. Many have tired of modern design that serves the wealthy few. Here is a common object repurposed to serve an entire urban population. Many design icons of the past—–like the paperclip, the Aalto stool, the Eichler house, and the Golden Gate Bridge—–are all very democratic in intent and share this humility.”

See Also: Public and Studio Forbes