I am in love with the Vélib’. That’s a bicycle for those of you wondering what the hell I’m talking about. Although it took me 2 months to muster up the courage to check one out, I am a wholehearted convert and think every city should have a bike share program. For 29€ for the year, 8€ a week, or 1.70€ a day, you essentially get a license to rent a vélib’ for 30 minutes from any station in Paris, of which there over 1800. Yes, 1800 stations. That means you will find another station within 300 meters–that’s less than a quarter of a mile.
You can rent a vélib’ for longer than 30 minutes,* but will be charged a nominal fee. But why would you do that when you can turn it back in at 29 minutes and check out another one, for free? Plus, Paris is small. You probably won’t even need a full 30 minutes.
Yes, riding on cobblestone and uphill is difficult. Yes, there are times that I am terrified I will get taken out by a bus. Sure I’ve had a dog jump out at me while I was riding and nearly been taken out by a scooter, but I’m less likely to be pick pocketed than on the metro.
Also, it is a fun, amazing way to see the city and to get to your destination, all while doing something that is good for you: exercising. How else am I supposed to be able to eat all of these pains au chocolat and compté cheese?
I know that New York and Chicago recently implemented bike share programs. What do these cities all have in common? Good public transportation systems, but bad weather for a large part of the year. (Sorry, but it’s true.)
Now why on earth does Los Angeles not have this? LA has wide streets, no cobblestone, terrible public transportation, and year round nice weather. I’m a convert and would gladly leave my car on the street (assuming it’s not a street cleaning day) and take a vélib’ / citibike / divvybike. Come on LA, get with the program!
And now, a photo montage.
Disclaimer: Only the grey bikes featured above are vélib’s.
*”Vélib Passion” is 39€ for the year and allows you to check out a vélib’ for 45 minutes at a time.
© Sarah Milstein 2013