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Have any tourists used the Vélib' system yet?

Have any tourists used the Vélib' system yet?

Jul 21st, 2007, 08:19 AM
  #1  
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Have any tourists used the Vélib' system yet?

On July 15th, Paris joined the list of cities that propose municipal bicycles. 10,000 so far but more than 20,000 by the end of the year.

You will see the bicycle stations everywhere (except around Sacré Coeur) -- there is supposed to be station every 300 meters in Paris. Once you subscribe (29€ for one year, 5€ for one week, 1€ for 1 day), use of the bicycles is free for 30 minutes. Just take one from one station and leave it at any other station (there is a hitching post system with red and green lights to tell you if you are attached properly). The second half hour is 1€, the next half hour is 2€, and prices keep going up from there. The point is to go somewhere and leave the bicycle, and not to keep it for longer than you need it. If you keep a bicycle for 24 hours, the charge is something like 175€ while the bikes themselves are only worth 150€.

How does it work? Well, I have a metro pass, so I just wave it over the hitching post, and it frees a bicycle. Occasional users have a credit card (VI/MC) machine (which speaks English) to get a bike released. The credit card keeps a 150€ deposit on hold until you return the bike to another station. I'm not sure if the machines demand chip and PIN cards, but that would be cruel, wouldn't it?

More information at www.velib.paris.fr

In any case, I am out of shape at the moment, but I have managed to go from Châtelet to the northern edge of Paris (where I live) in just 20 minutes. I have discovered to my horror that Gare du Nord seems to have been built on the summit of a mountain, and I have to pass by there to get home. I'm sure that I will soon discover other "mountains" in Paris. I already know that the Arc de Triomphe is on a mountain ("la colline de Chaillot") and won't go there until I am in shape.

In any case, the system is fantastic and has not at all been advertised to tourists yet, to let Parisians have a chance to get used to it.
kerouac is offline  
Jul 21st, 2007, 09:15 AM
  #2  
 
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kerouac -
merci bien for this info. Which metro pass(es) work? Will cc's without the implanted chip work?
Seamus is offline  
Jul 21st, 2007, 11:37 AM
  #3  
 
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more questions:
1.if I take a 20 minute ride, turn it in while visiting, take another bike for a 20 minute ride, turn it in 1€, or is that 2 free-first-half-hour rides?
2.is the website in English (I couldn't see any)? if not, where (physically) does one click to see where the bike stations are located (I can't read French)?
3.do the carte orange or other tourist-type passes work, or just a commuter pass which a 4 day visitor wouldn't usually be purchasing?
tomboy is offline  
Jul 21st, 2007, 12:02 PM
  #4  
 
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1) Yes, those are free rides with a daily, 7 day or yearly subscription.

2) I only see a French site

3 there area passes for 1 day, or 7 days - there's a 150€ deposit so I'd like to know how a metro pass worked too.

There have been "bugs" with the billing (ie bikes not registering being returned) which are being handled on a case-by-case basis. I'll wait til the bugs are ironed out.

On the velib site; click on trouver une station and then toutes les stations and you'll get a map of paris with the bike depots.
moxie is offline  
Jul 21st, 2007, 01:20 PM
  #5  
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My metro "Navigo" pass works -- it has a chip. This is the pass that will be replacing the Carte Orange soon (and almost certainly make it more difficult for visitors to get a Carte Orange).

You can keep changing bikes every 30 minutes to avoid paying more charges, but your rights are deactivated for 5 minutes after each bike return. The bikes supposedly start beeping after 25 minutes to warn you that your time is running out, but I haven't kept a bike for 25 minutes yet. If a bike station is completely full when you need to return a bike, the machine gives you an extra 10 minutes to return the bike to the next closest station (and it will inform you of the location).

Saturday night was clearly not the best time to find a bike in the center of Paris, because I had to walk at least a kilometer to find a station with bikes. The machines at the empty stations show you an electronic map of the closest stations with information like (tonight) "50 open spaces, 0 bicycles". When I returned home, 2 people were waiting at my empty station, and the bike I had used was back on the road within 30 seconds.

I'm am pretty sure they are going to have to accelerate the arrival of the next 10,000 bikes, because the operation has been wildly successful so far.
kerouac is offline  
Jul 21st, 2007, 01:24 PM
  #6  
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On the Vélib' website just click on the little piece of map that it shows, and it will give you a click-and-drag map of Paris showing all of the stations.
kerouac is offline  
Jul 21st, 2007, 01:28 PM
  #7  
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Just another little note to add: when you see how many stations are already in place, it is absolutely incredible that they were all installed from March to July. Nobody thought that JC Decaux could keep its promise to have everything installed by then, and they even surpassed the schedule. All of this is due to the ferocious competition with Clear Channel, which narrowly lost the Paris contract. Unfortunately, Clear Channel still holds the SNCF contract until at least December 2007, which has prevented JC Decaux from installing bike stations directly at the train stations.
kerouac is offline  
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