Saturday 25 August 2007

How To Ride A Velib

I finally succumbed to all the hype and picked up my first Velib the other day in Paris. I was trying to get from Bercy Village to Bastille and the friend I was with assured me that it would be much quicker than taking the Metro. As we wizzed through the streets of the 12th arrondissement I thought it was great, fast and efficient.

We zoomed past Gare de Lyon and arrived in Bastille in no time at all. Then we hit a snag. You have to deposit your Velib at a Velib station and furthermore if you're on the Velib for more than half an hour you have to pay. We rolled up and down the street looking for the parking spot finally we found one but it was full. We carried on riding but couldn't find another one eventually after about 20 minutes we managed to park our bikes.

So in the end due to parking problems it took far longer than the Paris Metro and I had to pay a fee for passing the half our mark (admittedly only 1 Euro) and I got wet because it was raining.

On the plus side it was fun and I didn't have to take the smelly Metro which, believe me, is a definite plus.


Just Me in Paris said...

Hi ! I just tried a Velib today and because it was a gloriously sunny Sunday, everyone in Paris had to try a Velib if they had not tried before.

In fact yesterday I was down in the 6th along the Seine (with all the tourists) and noticed that many of the Velib stations were completely full and people had abandoned their Velib bikes, probably not knowing that it would cost dearly.

Here is the solution: once you reach your destination and the station is full, swipe your Velib or Navigo card on the station reader. It will recognize that the station is full, re-direct you to another station with empty places *and* give you another 15 minutes free !!

Now the next problem is with everyone taking a Velib to the popular neighborhoods, the nearest empty place may be some ways away. I suspect this is the case since I was in the more residential areas and many (5 or 6) Velib stations had no bikes left !

Good Velib-ing !

Anonymous said...

I think the city is having a 'grace period' and not charging folks for extra time due to the problem you mentioned (although I'm not sure; although the site says something about this, I can't imagine the city refunding any money to anyone.)

My issue is that 30 minutes isn't much time to get anywhere. I went over to the 6th the other day and have to swap bikes 3 times to avoid going over my 30 mins.

Gideon said...

Just me - thanks for you tip.

David - 30 minutes not enough? You'd better ride faster.