Sunday, 27 December 2009

A Top 12 of the Noughties in Paris, Part Eight


The Velib Revolution (2007)
On the 15th July, one day after Bastille Day, the launch of the Velib system introduced many Parisians to the joys of cycling in the city. The idea had originated in Lyon, but it was a wonderful initiative that brought funky new street furniture and changed how people interacted with the city.

More recently, problems have arisen
with the cost of repairing and replacing damaged bicycles higher than estimated, but globally everybody is happy with the system. There have been relatively few accidents and it seems to be proof that Parisians can be responsible citizens. Apart from me that is.

One of the dangers of the Velib system is that after a long evening out on the town you are always tempted to jump on a bike rather than walk home or get a taxi. One chilly evening I grabbed a Velib, but I soon got lost in the rabbit warren of one-way streets in the centre of the city. I became more and more frustrated and decided to quickly bomb the wrong way down a quiet road in the direction of a street that I recognised. Unfortunately, a Police car turned around the corner in front of me, forcing me to slam on the brakes. I ended up in an undignified heap on the floor in front of the car. Picking myself up, I was sure that I was facing a night in the cells, or at the very least an expensive on-the-spot fine. Luckily, they had bigger fish to fry and just beeped their horn and told me to get out of the way. I quickly returned the bike to the nearest Velib station then continued my journey home on foot, cold but still in one piece!

2 comments:

Owen said...

A shame you stumbled on some easy-going cops; spending a night in the dungeons would have given you a great topic to blog about... not many of us get to see the inside of Paris prisons...

:-)

Peter said...

As Owen said, a missed opportunity! :-)

Yes, to bike in Paris is a good idea, but my experience was that I was too slow and a hinder, as soon as there were no specific bike lanes. So, I decided for my little electric motor bike and finally feel safer (with my compulsory helmet).

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