Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Losing My Velib Virginity


If there is one thing I have been bound and determined to do before leaving Paris, it is to finally go out on a Velib.  Yes, shockingly, after four years here and my arrival almost perfectly coinciding with the advent of Paris's wildly successful bike for hire program, I had never taken out one of the city's bikes for a spin until now.  Actually, I thought about it once during the long transit strike of 2007, but when I went to the closest Velib station, I found out that everyone else had had the same idea.  There wasn't a bike to be seen.  And since then, the need never recurred.  I do love biking.  It's the thought of biking in Paris traffic that has given me pause.  Well, that and my Navigo Integrale pass that makes it oh so easy to hop on and off buses and subways. 

But enough is enough.  Earlier this week, I met up with a friend at a metro stop in the 17th where we snagged the last two bikes at the adjacent Velib station and were on our way.  Everything was going great until we realized that the half hour was almost up and we had no idea where we were going.  We pulled over, took a quick look at the map, and at my friend's Velib app which pointed us to the nearest station, just half a block away.  The plan was to dock the bikes, allow the system to register them, and then take them out again.  No problem except ....the kiosk was busted.  We couldn't liberate the bikes.  The iPhone was showing two more bikes just a block away.  But when we got there, we found that one had a flat tire and the other had a broken seat.  We continued walking, through long stretches of the 10th, 18th, and 17th and found not one Velib station with two available bikes. 

 It was much later that afternoon, long after I had parted ways with my friend, that I saw this:



And where was my 24 hour Velib ticket when I needed it?  Sitting on the chest in my front hall.  Curses, foiled again.

7 comments:

Mary Kay said...

I'm still a "Velib virgin" but when my husband tried to return a bike within the 30 minute period and take another one, it blocked him. He ended up returning home on foot. Is there a way around the system?

g said...

anne-i so love your posts-the way you see things-like a few other readers, i noticed that count down clock when it first went up there- it is freaking me out!! as always thanks for the time you put into making "all this" happen.

Sweet Freak said...

Bravo, Anne! The Velibs, after the sweets, could very well be my favorite thing about Paris. And you were inducted with a classic experience: so fun to cruise around but, inevitably, you get stuck riding a little longer than you anticipated.

Elizabeth said...

The more I read your blog the more sad I am that you are coming back to DC (for both you and me!).

Amy said...

Right place, wrong time! Good for you for braving the velib. Next time I'm in Paris (soon, I hope) I'm going to take one for a spin.

Anne said...

Amy: Just be sure you have a credit card with a chip. The typical U.S. credit card doesn't work with the Velib technology and there's no other method of payment.

starman1695 said...

The problem, as you so brilliantly pointed out, is trying to return them and get another. I often wonder why some of the stations are always full, and others are almost always empty.

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