Thursday, July 30, 2009
Vehicles of Paris: Part 13
My series about the vehicles of Paris really can't be complete without a picture of a Velib, one of the some 20,000 bicycles for hire that are stationed all over the city of Paris. It's been two years since the program launched and it's been a big success by all accounts with over 50 million uses recorded and the expansion of the network both in town and into close-in suburban communities, although regrettably, there's also been quite a bit of vandalism and too many thefts. Use of these bikes is free for the first 30 minutes and there are hundreds of stations all over town so going point-to-point is the way to go. They even have trucks that go around each night to redistribute the bikes so that are plenty of bikes on top of Montmartre (since no one really wants to ride a bike up that hill) and in other popular venues where the station often looks like this:
But can I tell you a secret? I've never, not once, used one of these bikes. American tourists are sometimes disappointed that they can't make the system work with their chip-free American credit cards. But, no, that's not my problem. I'll be blunt: riding a bike in Paris traffic scares the crap out of me. So pedal away brave souls. I'll wave to you from the sidewalk or the bus.