Tag: Velib BikesView All Tags
Bike Rentals / Bike Sharing / Bicycling / Biking / Paris Travel / Velib Bikes / → All Tags
If you’ve been to Paris in the last few years, you’ve probably seen all those Vélib bicycles ready for tourists and locals alike to take them for a spin. We’ve even had the pleasure of pedaling one with a baguette in our basket, so it’s with great pleasure that we wish them well on their fourth anniversary this summer.
However, it’s pricey to keep all those seats nice and cushy, and it looks like the bike sharing program is going to cost everyone a few more euros and cents. Starting at the beginning of May—that’s like this week—prices will rise by around 70 cents. Now one-day tickets will set you back €1.70, where things were previously just €1—that’s roughly $2.50 for those of us that have credit cards based in the nifty fifty.
Bike Rentals / Bike Sharing / Bicycling / Biking / Paris Travel / Velib Bikes / → All Tags
Last week on our trip to Paris, we had a great Tuesday all planned out--grab a croissant and a cappucino and head out to Versailles. Unfortunately, we were thwarted by a 36-hour Metro strike, an annoying but common occurrence in Paris.
So we had to rejigger our itinerary a bit to do some sightseeing instead. But how we were going to get around? We were staying at the schmancy Le Meurice on Rue de Rivoli, which is very central (and near the Louvre) but we were not keen to spend the entire day walking around the city. Nor were we going to pony up for the hotel's chauffeur services or go crazy trying to hail a cab.
Then we spotted Vélib, the city's bike rental system.
For one euro day, you can rent a bike and ride around the city like a real Parisian. The bikes even come with a basket for you to store your baguettes, fresh flowers and a bottle of red wine. Yet, there is a dark side to Vélib. Let us tell you now:
Electric cars seem like a great idea, but its hard to believe they'll ever really catch on with the driving public without some serious incentives. Officials in France and Australia, however, think they have it figured out: they plan to launch low-priced electric car sharing networks modeled after the wildly successful bike-sharing program Velib. Autolib will station 4,000 battery-powered electric cars in and around Paris, with users paying a monthly membership fee of between 20 and 30 euros and rental fees of between four to five euros per hour for the cars. To go along with the rollout, the city plans to install 1,400 electric charging stations, so you'll never be far from the juice you need to keep going. (After all, electric cars can only operate for an hour or two before they bonk.) A similar effort is going on in Australia, where an outfit called Better Place is working with a Renault-Nissan alliance to introduce electric cars, charging spots, battery exchanges, and renewable energy technology to the good people Down Under. When will all of this be completed? It depends on who you ask. French officials claim their system will be up by 2010 and the Aussies are predicting a 2012 launch, but it's doubtful that automakers will have fleets of acceptable vehicles ready in that time frame. But in any case, it's nice to see zero-emission vehicles get a little encouragement, and we look forward to zipping around Paris or Perth in a snazzy electric car.
[Photo: EV World]
Yesterday we happily posted about Velib Bikes and the transformative effect they've had on Paris. But it's hardly the only bike-sharing program in the world; lots of other European cities offer similar schemes.
Instead of covering them all ourselves, we rely on The Bike-Sharing Blog, an aggregator of public cycling news from a consulting firm that specializes in the subject. Perhaps the coolest thing they've put together? A bike-sharing world map that tracks which cities have programs and gives links to those individual websites. Find it embedded after the jump.
Biking / Velib Bikes / Outdoor Travel / Active Travel / Paris Travel / Videos / Bike Sharing / → All Tags
Happy belated birthday, Velib! The Parisian bike-sharing program turned one on July 15, and things are still going gangbusters with 1,451 stations, 20,600 bicycles and 3 million subscribers. There's even an iPhone app to help you find the Velib locations closest to you.
While haters will point out that a few dozen people have been injured and even killed while touring the city on Velibs, the environmental impact of the cycle-sharing scheme can't be denied. Biking advocates on the other hand wax poetic about how much nicer the program has made the city for residents and visitors alike.
After the jump, a well-done video about Velib's first year.
Yes, Velib bikes will get you around Paris, but unless you're familiar with the city, you may be too distracted by trying to read rue signs to see the sights. Before you know it your 30 Velib minutes are up and you're racing to find the nearest bike rack.
Enter Fat Tire Bike Tours, the best four hours (and $37) you might spend in Paris. Run by a group of young, in-the-know Americans, they've got a laid back attitude and effortless cool that makes for a surprisingly refreshing guided tour experience.
Biking / Active Travel / Paris Travel / Velib Bikes / Videos / Parks / → All Tags
Yeah, pedals, not petals. Something about this super nice weather has us wanting to rent a bike and ride around some parks. Picnicking and day drinking are, of course, optional.
In Paris, those Velib bikes are the way to go, and other European cities have similar bike-sharing programs. Stateside, Washington, DC is launching a similar program next month, starting with a fleet of 120 bikes. The initiative is called SmartBike DC, though its set-up seems a little less tourist-friendly than some other programs. (Something about a $40 annual fee...)
At NYC's Central Park, you can go official and rent bikes at The Boathouse or just grab one from a tout in Columbus Circle. Oh, and if you shoot a crazy video while biking, do send it our way.
· Velib [Official Site]
· DC to Launch Nation's First Euro-Style Bikes [AP, via Google]
· Bike Rentals at the Boathouse [Official Site]
· Europe Loves "Free" Bikes [Jaunted]
· Even Americans Can Ride Velibs [Jaunted]
After the successful introduction of the nearly free bike rental program called Velib in Paris last year, the city's mayor has just announced they're going to follow it up with a similar scheme using small cars.
The Voiturelib program will involve a fleet of small blue cars at stations around the city. Tourists and residents will both be able to pick up a car without booking ahead, use it for a small charge, then leave it at another station anywhere in Paris. (God knows the one thing Paris needs is more clueless drivers.)
They're going to start the system up with 2,000 cars and see how it works out. We can just imagine the day when tourists hop in all the cars at once and get stuck at the impossible traffic roundabout at the Arc de Triomphe.
We know all about Paris' Velib bike rental program, but as it turns out, the City of Light isn't the only European destination with a biking obsession. Barcelona, Seville and Stockholm all have bike rentals available, though the Spanish programs seem like a bit more of a hassle than they might be worth.
In Barcelona, the scheme is called Bicing and will cost you 1 for a weekly subscription and about $1 an hour after your first, free 30 minutes. You'll have to register for the rentals before arriving in Spain, unless you're planning to be there awhile and don't mind waiting for your rental card to show up.
Seville's program is Sevici, and it's 5 for a weekly subscription with small charges added for riding time. Its burly bikes are more reminiscent of Paris', while the Barcelona bikes are a bit lighter duty.
That same style of bike is also in play in Stockholm, where the rental season is set to wrap up this Wednesday. While that may seem like bad news, do you really want to be riding on two wheels in the dark, frigid Swedish winter? Better to wait until next April when the program restarts with more bikes and more stations all over the city.
Ah, Paris in the fall. The museums, the crisp walks along the Seine... the transit strikes? Hey, that's France for you. Almost all the trains have stopped and the only subway that's running--Line 14--is automated. So what's a person to do?
Bikes are the way forward. The Velib program was suffering from bike shortages even before the strike, so don't count on that as a sure-fire way to get around. Still, you may be able to score one if you park yourself in front of a docking station and wait a few minutes.
If loitering isn't your thing, get over to Fat Tire Bike Tours Paris in the 15th arrondissement. It's more of a tour company, but Fat Tire also do straight-up bike rentals. Rates start at 2 an hour and you can get the whole day for 15 ($21). But whatever you do, don't fret--the strike could be over by tomorrow.
Update: Dr. Vino wine blogger Tyler Colman reminds us of another way to handle the strike: Give up on getting around and get sloshed at a local wine bar.
Remember that insanely popular Paris bike rental program, Velib? When it debuted, everyone Stateside was excited about touring the town on bike--until rumors surfaced that you'd need a special credit card to rent them.
Fear no more: American cards can get the job done, says Eric Rayman in the New York Times:
The kiosks now accept American Express cards issued in the United States as well as international JCB cards, even if the cards do not contain chips.
You'll still have to charge a 150 deposit if you rent a Velib, and you'll need a subscription, which costs 1 for a day and 5 for seven days. But that's a small price to pay for the convenience of picking up and dropping off bikes as you need them.
For more on-the-ground advice, Flickr member austinevan has tons of info, including photos and a walk-through of the rental process. Follow his tips, and you'll be pedaling Paris in no time.
When Paris started its might-as-well-be-free bike rental program this summer, we wondered whether it would work or be laughed off as another gimmick that locals would love to hate. Turns out, everyone loves it: In just a few months, Parisians and tourists alike have logged 3.7 million rides on the clunky 50-pound bikes.
Hundreds of automated rental stations are scattered around the city, so picking up and dropping off a bike is easy enough. The only hassle is a small fee for a one- or seven-day "subscription," payable by credit card. (Hassle number two: You'll need an embedded RFID chip, which only certain cards carry.)
Still, dealing with a bit of bureaucracy is about as Parisian as having a cafe au lait. And after you snag your bike, all you have to do is pedal around town and enjoy yourself. The program is doing so well that Chicago's mayor, Richard Daley, dropped in to test out the Velibs to see if a similar scheme would work in his city.