When I visited Paris the last two times, I noticed these grey, almost drab looking bikes everywhere. They were part of the Paris Velib bike sharing scheme, run partly by the city. It had proper docking stations that locked the bikes up when not in use. This was a major success and copied globally. The London “Boris” bikes are a good example of this.
It was very different to the ghastly share system we ended up with in Australia where companies just left shared bikes all over the city without proper docking stations to store them when not in use. They ended up in people’s way and as a surprise to almost no one in Australia, most of them ended up at the bottom of the harbour. It was mentioned that this must be a fault with Australians, I don’t think so as they also have those terrible share systems here in Paris and most of the bikes I saw were just as trashed as the ones at home.
I was determined to try the proper system here in Paris, however I’ve sinced learned the original much loved system has been replaced with a newer one that’s not been as successful as the original and the Parisians are not happy about it. It’s become a major political issue here. And in a city with a history of revolutions the mayor is getting a little worried….. You can read more about the debacle in the links below.
None the less I still wanted to try it out so I paid my €5 online for a day pass and started looking for a bike after I’d had my morning coffee. There were a few right near the apartment but I wanted to ride by the river, so looked down that way. I found a bike but then hit a snag getting it unlocked, just as one of the article describes and as it was the only bike left I had to search for another docking area to try another one. A few minutes away I found another place with heaps of bikes, even a rare blue electric one, but alas it had a flat tyre and was thus useless. Another bike was fine, it unlocked ok, and I was off.
Apart from the €5, the first 30min is free, then something like €1 every 30 min after that. I got a text when I’d been using the bike for an hour just reminding me I was paying extra for this. The bike was easy to ride, the brakes worked well and they have three gears you can use. I didn’t take the bike anywhere hilly. I discovered after an hour of riding I’d left my water bottle at the apartment so had to buy one from a bar along the river. €4 for a bottle of water, a bit of idiot tax factored into that…..
The bikes have an inbuilt lock so you can leave them in places temporarily without having to put it back in a docking station.
The share bikes neatly locked up, plus an electric one (a rare sight).
You unlock them buy keying in your account and PIN number on the bike. You can also some how use your metro tap and go card, but that didn’t work for me. This first bike just wouldn’t unlock, so had to find another
An ofo share bike getting the same treatment they do at home.
Paris traffic signals just for bikes. It’s hard to see in this but the light is green
Here is a screenshot of my Strava that shows were I rode