(Photos from zheem)
Paris is known for revolutions. And right now, I have never seen anything as revolutionary as Velib’, their system of bikes.
It truly is a transit system unto itself. And the most amazing thing is how it has transformed Paris.
When I lived there 15 years ago, riding a bike was taking your life into your hands..and throwing it away. For such a compact city, it was impossible to bike there.
Now, it’s impossible not to. With Velib, you basically borrow a bike for free for 1/2 hour. You register with the system, handing over a credit card number. If you keep it longer, you’re automatically charged a minimal price. And if you keep the bike, you’re debited 150 euros.
But what makes it easy to simply have a bike for 1/2 hour is the number of stations and bikes there are around the city. There are 20,000 bikes and I believe 1,500 stations. You simply flit from one station to another as you run errands, take a trip to a museum, or simply glide along the quais.
But what are bikes without bike paths? And Paris now has plenty of those, everywhere, on all the streets, in the big boulevards, and along the quais.
Amsterdam is an amazing city for bikes. But Paris gives you a coup de coeur.