159/365 – Did I tell you about the bikes?

Brave_bike_ridersBicycles are everywhere in Paris, bikes of every description, being ridden by every sort of person – the earnest young woman dressed for work, the older man in a suit, the student, the elderly – all bravely coursing along next to the crazy torrent of busses, cars, and delivery vans (the Renault Kangoo being my favorite model.)

I expected heavy use of bikes – you see it in all the European films – but what I didn’t expect was the huge extent of the bike rental business.  Well, it’s not really a business, per se, it’s a publicly subsidized convenience. 

The city hall (Mairie de Paris) of Paris operates a rental program called Vélib’ with literally thousands of three-speed unisex bikes at hundreds of stations around the city.  It costs just one euro (about $1.45) a day for an unlimited number of 30-minute jaunts (subscriptions are also available). If you use the bike for an hour, that adds a euro, another half-our adds two euros, so the thing is designed for short trips (under 30 minutes is free.)  Even the guy we were renting the apartment from sued a Velib’ to come over from his office.  It’s an amazingly good idea, and Paris is on the way to becoming a city of bikes.

Typical Velib' bike station in Paris.

Typical Velib' bike station in Paris.

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