on Two Wheels
The first time I heard about Vélib was
this past summer, when my brother returned from
a vacation in Paris. He told me about this wonderful
new system where you could rent a bike and in
this way visit the city without depending on
the metro or buses.
It was now easily possible to see the Eiffel Tower and the Notre Dame Cathedral within a half hour, all the while taking in all of Paris’s beautiful sites. So you can imagine my excitement when I landed in Paris just two weeks ago, looking forward to discovering Paris by bike myself.
The system works like a marvel. You pick up a bike at any location (there are bicycle stands throughout the city). You input your credit card information into a sort of parking meter and you choose which bike you want. You pay 1 euro, you pick up one of an identical row of light grey bikes and off you go. There is a small limitation however you need to return the bicycle to another stand within a half hour, otherwise you get charged by the hour for every hour that it is late.
This can be inconvenient if you choose to take the bike for the day without stopping at a stand every half hour because the bill quickly rises. As a result, you have to plan your trip properly, know that you are going from point A to point B, stop, and change bikes within the half hour before going on to point C. However, while a tourist like me might have liked to rent a bike and visit the city for a full day, most people usually need a bike for a half hour or so, as they run errands, go to work or school, or even to another tourist attraction. The Vélib definitely has its bonus points.