Optymo in Belfort is the agency that runs the city’s bus lines, as well as the bike-sharing and car-sharing systems. The name Optymo stands for optimal mobility.
The Optymo system currently has 250 bikes available at thirty self-service bike stations in the city of Belfort and in several adjoining towns. The bikes are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and can be returned to any of the thirty stations.
Each bike has a stand-alone control box (boîtier de commande autonome). Though I didn’t know it at the time, these turned out to be very similar to the ones that were installed in Paris two years later as part of the new Vélib’ Métropole system.
These autonomous control boxes have the advantage that you can type your subscription number and personal code directly into the display on the bike itself, so you no longer have to run back and forth between the bike and the info column. Also they keep track of the time, so you can see when your first half hour is almost up, and serve as a speedometer, in case that is of interest.
Of course a small bike-sharing system like the one in Belfort, with thirty bike-stations (the same number as in nearby Besançon, by coincidence), does not offer anywhere near the number of possible trajectories as a large system like the one in Paris, with nearly 1400 stations in the city and suburbs.
Figuring all possible permutations of rides to and from every station to and from every other station, you get 870 possible trajectories for a city like Belfort but nearly 1,958,600 for Paris (using the formula for permutations that I had almost but not quite completely forgotten from high school math).
In Paris you have over 2200 times as many possible trajectories to choose from, so it’s no wonder the bikes are used much more often — with fluctuations, of course, depending on whether or not they are having a Métro strike (more bike use) or a coronavirus lockdown (less bike use except by health care workers).
Nonetheless, these smaller bike-sharing systems are a welcome addition to a city’s mobility mix, especially in a place like Belfort which has a good network of well-maintained and well-signposted bicycle routes.
The little river that flows through Belfort has the marvelous name of the Savoureuse. This bicycle and pedestrian bridge across the Savoureuse is called the Passerelle François Mitterrand after the fourth president of the fifth French Republic.
My photos in this post are from 2016 and 2018. I wrote the text in 2020.