Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Velib - Paris goes cycling

Recently I was asked by a guest to explain those Velib stations that have magically (well not really), popped up all over Paris. Well, to tell you the truth I don't fully understand them.

I do know that they are trying to have posts every 300 meters and that the idea is to have an alternative to using your car or even the metro or bus. It is primarily for short trips and for the moment, though some sites say that it is supposed to be for Parisians and tourists alike, it would seem to be more geared towards residents of the city of lights. Why would I say that? Well for one thing the site the city created for explaining their bikes is only in French, http://www.velib.paris.fr/. Secondly the greatest advantage is to take a 1-year membership, which costs 29 euros. Thirdly, I asked at a Paris info point about the use of the bikes and they explained to me that though the terminals are also in English, the bikes are really for Parisians rather than tourists and they suggested that it might be to a tourists advantage to simply rent a bike from a bike shop or from the RATP (the metro folks), at Chatelet.

Here is what is cool about it: The first 30 minutes are free. After that the cost is
1st Half hour 2nd half hour from the 3rd half hour

1 €

2 €

4€ per additional half hour

I think this is going to be a great thing but I agree with the tourist office that if you wish to rent a bike for a full day - this is not the option for you.

I will go and test one of their machines. I know a friend of mine tried it the other day and had a really hard time. He is under the impression that the terminals privilege those who have a yearly subscription. Once there are more active terminals perhaps this will be less of an issue.

Happy riding
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