My trusty hybrid bike, which I relied on almost daily to get me around Vancouver, now sits neglected in our cave. And I have stopped buying monthly metro passes.
Why? Because along with the arrival of double-digit temperatures and sunny weather came my annual subscription for Vélib (Vélo + liberté), Paris’ short-term bike rental network.
There are well over 1000 Vélib stations in Paris, including one mere steps away from our apartment building. The best thing about it (aside from it being free for the first 30 min) is you can take a bike from point A and drop it off at point B. This means I can bike from home to the metro station just across the Seine, park the bike there, then ride the metro to my French class. No worry about theft, or of having to lug my bike up & down our building’s stairwell.
And it’s not just for locals: if you have a credit card with a microchip (which I strongly recommend to anyone travelling in Europe, regardless) you can get short-term subscriptions for 1 or 7 days, which cost 1€ and 5€ respectively.
✱ Freedom, that is, until you:
a) get to your destination across town and realize you forgot to check where the nearest Velib station is and so spend the next 10 minutes cycling up & down random one-way streets hoping to find one.
b) get to the station and find it has no empty stalls left so then you must lurk until one frees up, or return to (a).
Here’s a more thorough explanation of how it works. Don’t be put off by the narrator’s voice (it’s kinda amusing, really), because the vid is well done.
And for those wondering how Parisian kids handle growing up without backyards, real forests, or parks where you can walk on the grass, here’s how (keeping in mind these weigh over 20 kg and don’t have shocks):