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.