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.