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Velib: Paris' bike-sharing program

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Sep 28th, 2015, 10:57 AM
  #1
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Velib: Paris' bike-sharing program

Hi,

I'm visiting Paris for a few days during the last week of October and my friends and I are thinking of using Velib to go on our own 1-day bike tour of the city instead of walking. I just wanted to get some info., feedback, advice on using Velib.

Is it easy to use for tourists? Is it safe? Does it really make travelling and exploration around the city easier?

Thank you!
reggierm is offline  
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Sep 28th, 2015, 11:34 AM
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Is it easy to use for tourists?
- yes.
you rent it via velib.fr site and you get a code.
You enter the code at a velib station, select the bike (they are numbered) then releése it by putting your thumb on the release latch).

Is it safe?
- Jein.
are you used to biking ?
do you bike in cities ?
Cars do pay attention now, but you must be careful

Does it really make travelling and exploration around the city easier?
- yes. Definitely. I did it a full week-end and loved it. Was dead tired tough.

Important info :
- Do put your bikes back at stations every half hour max - if you don't you'll pay more per half hour that you keep it - can be fast 4 € per half hour per bike.
- don't know how many you are but it is not always easy to find several bikes at the same station.



maman (courtesy of my daughter).
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Sep 28th, 2015, 11:51 AM
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biking in Paris is often IME no piece of cake - some novices have been seriously hurt or killed - may sound more dreamy than it is but if an experienced biker stressing safety go for it - to me Paris is eminently walkable with most sites in a fairly compact area. I enjoy walking in Paris and lot more than biking though I have not biked there in recent years with the new bike lanes but watching this is not like biking in Holland or Belgium with dedicated bike paths rare.

Be careful.
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Sep 28th, 2015, 12:22 PM
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The bikes are a little heavy especially if you're used to a 10 speed or more. Like ParisWat said they are meant to be SHARED not parked while you go out to lunch. You should download both the Velib stations app and map of bike trails in Paris before you get here. The trails don't connect a lot of the time so you'll have to plan your route around that and learn the rules of the road too.

We see more and more Velib's locked up outside of cafes - I bet the people parking them won't be happy when they see their credit card bill after they get home. Very few bike riders have been killed using Velib's, though some have been injured. Traffic in Paris isn't the horror people make it out to be except in a few areas. Just pay attention and you'll be OK.
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Sep 28th, 2015, 12:25 PM
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Do you bike regularly in a congested urban area? If not, don't think you should do it. It's safe like that kind of activity is safe in any big city. My nephew who bikes a lot in San Francisco just had a woman open a car door into him on the street, that can happen. Luckily, he wasn't hurt too bad.

I've never had a problem touring Paris without being on a bike, so I don't see how it could make it "easier", whatever that means. I would think it would make it harder as you have to be concerned about where you can ride, and where you leave the bike. The Paris' metro and bus system is extremely extensive with very close-together stops, it's not like in some cities where they are really far apart. And if you have to put it back in a rack every half hour, that's another thing to worry about.
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Sep 28th, 2015, 12:32 PM
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http://www.thelocal.fr/20140108/woman-killed-in-vlib-collision>

OK only 8 people have been killed on Velib bikes but still be very careful - this is not a walk in the park many think. I can see going for a ride in the Bois de Boulogne or Bois de Vincennes, etc and of course you are also responsible for damage and theft are you not?

Don't mean to rain on your parade and maybe you are used to biking in congested urban areas - then fine go for it and you'll have fun - if not it may be a bit unnerving.
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Sep 28th, 2015, 12:40 PM
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I use it a lot, but I'm used to riding my bike in traffic in London. You need your wits about you - or in other words, you need to have your eyes on the traffic, not on the sights.

But if you do use it, think of it not as a tour, but a self-powered taxi. You use it to get from A to B, park it and forget it. Get the next one when you're ready to move on.
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Sep 28th, 2015, 01:07 PM
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Assuming you are a competent urban rider, the main point is Velibs are not meant for exploring/touring. It is more the Uber of bike riding. Mostly for Point to point short time periods. If you use one for many hours to ride around the city you will pay a fortune.

(And if you are NOT used to riding in NYC/London/San Francisco type traffic, don't even consider it)
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Sep 28th, 2015, 01:26 PM
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Well I'm someone who bikes A LOT in Paris but I have my own bike. As mentioned the vélibs are meant for short duration commuting and the bikes are heavy and clunky. If you want to really tour the city for the day then I'd suggest renting a bike from a bike shop so you don't have to keep checking the bike back in to avoid fees. The fees graduate upwards and the second hour will cost more than the first hour etc. so if you don't check the bike in for 3 or 4 hours then you'll end up paying the same amount it would have cost you to rent a bike for a whole day from a bike store.

Biking in Paris is NOT difficult and in 6 years of biking in Paris and France I have never once been beeped at or given the finger. The very first time I ever rode a bike in Paris I rode right up the Champs Elysées at rush hour and then went for a few spins in the crazy traffic around the Arc de Triomphe. However, I was used to riding a bike in a city and I am a confident and careful rider. If you are not confident in traffic then you might think twice but there are places where you can cycle in minimal traffic and some bike lanes are separated from traffic.

Biking is a great way to tour Paris and if you are confident cycling in cities then I'm sure you'll love it.
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Sep 29th, 2015, 12:58 PM
  #10
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Thank you for all your responses. I'm used to biking around a city I'm from Toronto. I'll see what the traffic and streets are like once I get there and decide then.
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Sep 29th, 2015, 02:39 PM
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do folks in Paris on bikes wear helmets - last time I was there I saw none - do Velib' rentals provide helmets - did not last time I was there?

Curious if French or European bikers have finally got on the helmet habit - I've rarely seen any.
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Sep 29th, 2015, 03:08 PM
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Velib doesn't distribute helmets PQ ...
People without helmets are now a minority.
I take my helmet on the thalys.
Well until my dog decided to eat it, now I've got to buy a new one.
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Sep 30th, 2015, 11:27 AM
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If you take you dog on a bike does it wear a helmet too?

When I was leading bike trips thru Benelux long ago are American bikers were the only helmet-clad bikers around and often got kind of weird looks - so now most folks wear helmets in Belgium - amsterdam I note still has relatively few helmets it seems.

So if renting a Velib bike you will not have a helmet if that unnerves you.
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Sep 30th, 2015, 07:14 PM
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Normally I don't disagree with pariswat but I'll have to say that the overwhelming majority of cyclists in Paris do not wear helmets.
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Sep 30th, 2015, 09:30 PM
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My observation is that most Vélib riders do not wear helmets while most people riding their own bikes do wear helmets.
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Oct 1st, 2015, 12:15 AM
  #16
 
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You could all be right.

My usual trip on Velib goes away from center of town towards suburbs. People I encounter on bikes are locals or own their own bikes. The vast majority has a helmet.
Also I travel early morning or late afternoon - early evening. Meeting commuters again.
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Oct 1st, 2015, 10:57 AM
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Well I guess I'll have to disagree with kerouac too. No surprise that vélib users don't wear helmets as they don't come with the bikes. However, my observations are that the overwhelming majority of people riding their own bikes in Paris DO NOT wear helmets. Next time you two come to pub quiz we can spend 15 minutes on the terrace observing cycling behavior and we'll make a bet about the percentage of those who are wearing vs. not wearing a helmet if riding their own bikes (vélib users excluded). I'll wager any amount of my wife's money that the two of you will lose.
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Oct 1st, 2015, 11:58 AM
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I raise to the challenge, I pick up the gauntlet.
I'll be betting my wife's money too, or better said, my daughters' inheritance.
Have the glasses ready, the more I'll drink, the more helmets I'll see...
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Oct 2nd, 2015, 12:35 AM
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Anyway, don't hog your Velib. Take it back to the bike stand and park it there. If you have data on your phone, you can download the Velib app, which tells you where the bike stands are and how many bikes are in it.
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Oct 2nd, 2015, 03:37 AM
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Well, I watched the morning traffic out my window for a few minutes, and I will revise the number of helmet wearers on their own bikes down to about 50%. Vélib riders with helmets would be more like 5%.
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