Reverence: Velib-The Paris Free Bicycle System

Jeune Fills on Velib Bike. Photo by Gianni

Before arriving in Paris I kept hearing, “Oh the best way to see Paris is on foot, walk the whole city, it's really the only way to experience it.” I'd rather be shot and thrown into a dumpster by the Seine. Walking is not for cyclists – it sours the guns, it's slow as hell. We are not walkers, we are rouleurs.

Enter the Velib – the word is an amalgam of velo and liberty, 20000 bikes, 1800 stations spread around the city. This was conceived to get cars off the streets and judging from the number of people using the bikes, it must be doing something right. These are not intended for sightseeing as much as they are a 24/7, nearly free way to get from point to point without a car and its associated pains. The bikes were custom-designed, 3 speeds, adjustable seat, a cable lock, basket, front and rear lights driven off the hubs. The coolest part is the sturdy male tab that easily mates with the base station. Post-ride you dock your bike into any open base, it locks, and you walk away. Brilliant.

Having been here for two days makes me an expert in all things Parisian, of course. The city is rather flat so the three gears are enough, the tires are tough, it's no speedster but really who cares? It's not your bike. No emotional attachment; use it and walk away. There is always another just like it waiting for the next ride. I've ridden a few of these bikes that needed some love but almost all of them have been great.

One subscribes to this kind of service. I bought a one week service for 8 euros. A whole year is only 29 euros. The first half hour is free, the next is 1 euro. You log in, grab a bike, adjust the seat, no time lost in adjusting the helmet as none are provided. Then you accelerate into the maelstrom that is Paris traffic; a torrent of motos, scooters, trucks, buses and bikes. Exciting and dangerous-absolument. But I figure I'll still last longer than that cyclist with headphones and cigarette.

[dmalbum path=”/velominati.com/content/Photo Galleries/[email protected]/velib photos/”/]

 

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67 Replies to “Reverence: Velib-The Paris Free Bicycle System”

  1. @Ron
    Thank you for the giant pit lemur reference, I hoped someone saw that. That was the French wine talking…

    @frank
    @Rob
    Another climb? I don’t think so. Frank and I may attempt the East Maui Loop, essentially around Haleakala, 175km and a fuck-ton of climbing, dirt roads, terrible asphalt pave. Who wouldn’t want to do that?
    Why would I even suggest a ride like that with a 35 year old, Olympic grade, massive seat post showin’ Dutch Monkey?…madness, again, that devil French red wine.

  2. @frank

    Besides, he did it so long ago, I’m sure he’s bound to do a better time now that he’s lighter than ever. I don’t think getting older really matters much in a climb this long

    Ned “da lung” Overend just won the Mt Washington Hill Climb. He is Rob’s and my age so we can’t really be using the age excuse too often. And that is no hill, such a cruel whore of a climb for us big boys. Much worse than Maui and only 7 or 8 miles. Rob, of course, placed 2nd one year.
    Frank, you would enjoy that one.

  3. Wait a second, do Giant Lemurs & Dutch Monkeys get along well enough to spend 175kms turning the cranks together?

    Do we have a primate behavior specialist amongst the Followers?

    Gianni – No problem! I more or less feel as if I’m on a group ride in this community, so most of what I hear (read) is in my head somewhere. Might be hurtin’ too much at the time to mention it, but I laughed at that yesterday.

  4. @roadslave
    Top shelf man. I thought I was cool ’cause I got to spend an afternoon taking turns with Warren Miller. You totally topped it……..

  5. @scaler911

    @roadslave
    Top shelf man. I thought I was cool ’cause I got to spend an afternoon taking turns with Warren Miller. You totally topped it……..

    Did you spend the whole afternoon falling over in lift lines and not sticking the drops?
    Did he spout inane blather as well?
    I’m sure he’s a loverly fella and great skier who well and truly lived the dream, but by cripes his films used to shit me.

  6. @JIPM, @frank, @Gianni, @scaler911 thanks for comments… it was an awesome occasion… it was the Rouleur dinner, so good spot Jeff… getting in was a case of a) hitting refresh every seven seconds on a thursday evening waiting for the email to come through announcing tickets were available, and b) once it went live, just throwing money at the problem… not a cheap evening, but well worth it. The Prophet was on great form – expansive, reflective, humerous, ruthless… combined will Zilli and Liggett, made for a fun evening. Liggett really has NO filter on what comes out of his mouth… he was meant to be MC for the evening, but answered every question before passing them across to Him… very amusing.

    Frank – good spot: in this photo, I only have one chin, and was climbing well for my weight… I may even have been only two weeks to peaking… hearing Him talk about His seven wins of Milan San Remo was inspiring “I knew that the longer and tougher the race, the more likely I was to win… because I knew I could ride harder and longer than all my competitors… that is why I won Milan San-Remo so many times”

    Interestingly, He thinks the current bunch of cyclists are the most exciting for a generation… so for all our lamenting the lack of panache, He disagrees.

    BTW, the dinner itself was great fun… every single person there was a bike nut, so for four hours we just talked bikes and shit. Who had Di2, who had Campy… carbon or titanium… what do you use to moisturise after shaving your legs?… do you track power to weight or VAM? there was no embarrassment, no furtive looks to our ‘normal’ friends, wives, partners etc. we could just be ourselves, talking about what we love. It felt great to be out in the open with our kind.

  7. @mouse

    @scaler911

    @roadslave
    Top shelf man. I thought I was cool ’cause I got to spend an afternoon taking turns with Warren Miller. You totally topped it……..

    Did you spend the whole afternoon falling over in lift lines and not sticking the drops?
    Did he spout inane blather as well?
    I’m sure he’s a loverly fella and great skier who well and truly lived the dream, but by cripes his films used to shit me.

    Naw. He’s actually a pretty charming guy. I was working Ski Patrol, and was just showing him around. He’s a old school, don’t let the nickel between your knees drop, kinda skier. Graceful.
    I get what you’re saying, believe me,. That said, something to be said about making a living doing something that’s a hobby for most of the rest of us. Kinda like cycling, no?

  8. Yeah, i admit I’m being a bit harsh, but hey, the internet gives you license to be a cock doesn’t it?
    The rant really was more out of a sense of jealousy for;
    a) Miller being able to make a life out of skiing
    b) You skiing

    A sad combination of living in Aus where the skiing is pitiful and young child rearing has kept me away.

  9. @ChrisO
    They do have a bike share system in Melbourne now and it is a complete balls up which will eventually whither away. The bikes never get used because you need to wear a helmet – which potential users typically aren’t carrying. Cannot believe the idiots who set this up didn’t foresee this problem. They are now trying things like ‘temporary helmets’ (WTF indeed)…

    @frank
    So pleased to see a photo of a community member who isn’t 6’2″ plus with a full head of hair. Glad you are one of us.

  10. @mouse

    Yeah, i admit I’m being a bit harsh, but hey, the internet gives you license to be a cock doesn’t it?
    The rant really was more out of a sense of jealousy for;
    a) Miller being able to make a life out of skiing
    b) You skiing
    A sad combination of living in Aus where the skiing is pitiful and young child rearing has kept me away.

    Didn’t take it that way at all dude. I am very aware of how lucky I am to live where I do, and the odd experiences that I have had.

  11. @markus – if your talking about me… you are right on the fact I don’t have a full head of hair… far from it. But I am 6’2″ – in circumference, though

  12. Awesome picture, I once saw the bike snob in my butter dish,next to meeting Steida and riding with a world omnium champ, that’s about as close to the gods I have been.

    My town has a bike borrow system, you take a bike that isn’t locked up and leave it in the ditch for the next guy….

  13. Breaking News: George Hincrappie announces his departure from the BMC Pro Team to the unclassified Montreal Commuter’s Collective

    Mr Hincrappie is quoted as saying “My off seasson will comprise of repeated traffic light sprints and hill rep on my new team bike as a result of the numerous code violations pointed out by the Velominati. By the time the new season starts, I will be a hardman

  14. These esteemed colleges of Journalism courses in Delhi would be better option you ought to earn your degree.

    Please don’t misunderstand; I appreciate entertainment being a lot as the next individual.
    One groovy method of getting the newest news is actually use in the internet.

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