Taxi drivers may bemoan the changes and urban development projects the city has rolled out in the last several years both to reduce the number of cars and make room for new cultural hubs but for locals, it means that city living continues to improve. Thanks to Vélib, the city’s 6 year old, groundbreaking bike-sharing program, getting around has also become a lot more enjoyable. So much so that other cities around the world were inspired to launch their own, with only a few subtle differences (and since nothing confers legitimacy like imitation, the program’s popularity abroad speaks volumes of its design, execution and success).
Now that visitors can pre-pay for a pass online to use during their stay, Vélib has even wider reach. You could easily see the appeal this summer when Parisians had decamped to their vacation destinations, leaving the city an open playground and the bikes in plentiful supply. I was eager to get back on a bike after our holiday so for the last several weekends, Cédric and I whipped across town by bike, taking care to closely follow the itineraries laid out in “Paris by Bike with Vélib”, a new guide (and 1st Vélib book) from the Mairie de Paris that proposes seven routes and includes historical background, points of interest and edible breaks to consider along the way. Moving, eating, exploring, learning – this is Parisian shorthand for entertainment and I love it.
While I’m generally a fair-weather cyclist, all this exploring has me motivated to keep riding even once the temperature plummets. Will you do the same?