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Velib: Getting around Paris by Bicycle

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Velib logoVelib' - the new Paris self-service "bicycle transit system"

On July 15, 2007, the city of Paris intoduced a new self-service "bicycle transit system" called Velib’. Parisians and visitors alike can pick up and drop off bicycles throughout the city at 750 locations—offering a total of 10,648 bikes. By the end of the year, there will be a Velib’ station approximately every 900 feet for a total of 1,451 locations and 20,600 bikes.

There's been an identical scheme running in Lyon since 2005, and Barcelona has had a similar system going since March of this year. Now the Velib scheme is aimed at encouraging Parisians to switch to pedal power to make their short journeys. The great thing is that the bike does not have to be returned to the same pick-up point - you can leave it in the nearest Velib stand when you get to your destination.

Accessing the Bikes

Velib bicycle ParisYou have to be over 14 to use Velib', and you have to be at least 1.5 metres tall, and minors have to have the permission of their parents.

The same card can be used for public transport and for Velib'. You can set up a subscription for just one day or for a whole week and the subscription fee is minimal: riders can select a one-day card for 1 euro, a weekly card for 5 euros or an annual card for 29 euros.

The Velib' system is designed for short journeys, not day-long hire. Once you've got your access card, the first half hour of pedalling time is absolutely free but, if you fail to return the bike to a Velib' station after 30 minutes, you get charged an extra euro and the penalties go up the later you are, 2 euros for another 30-minutes and 4 euros for every addition half-hour after that. Example: a 25 minute trip = 0 euros, a 50 minute trip = 1 euro, an hour and 15-minute ride = 3 euros.

Each Velib’ parking station is equipped with muni-meters (sic) to purchase one and 7-day passes and to pay any additional charges once the bike is dropped off. The Velib’ meters will also provide information on other station locations.

Application forms for the annual card are available at Paris District City Halls, 300 métro stations and 400 pastry shops (believe it!) throughout the city.

Velib Cycle Track ParisThe city of Paris has over 371 km (230 miles) of cycling lanes.

For more information visit: (French language only)

One of our readers, Chris from Florida in the US, comments "I was amazed how easy it is to cycle in Paris. There are so many new bike lanes & paths to make it easy. I guess they've done this for all the new "public bikes" (Velib) that the city has put in. Although I discovered that credit cards from N America do not work in the machines, so Americans/Canadians can't rent them." (Editor's note: you can just buy a card from a shop or metro)

Next page: Bicycle Tours , Paris Segway tours or go to Paris Sightseeing Index

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