Paris city bike rental
Last weekend I visited Paris and I discovered Velib, a city wide bicycle scheme. I thought this city planned access to bicycles is a fantastic way to tour Paris.
I first saw something like this in Helsinki. But I don’t think it was a grand success as many of the bikes were vandalised or stolen by drunken swedes on the Viking line. Honest. :)
I also came across a cycling scheme in Barcelona called Bicing. Unfortunately I couldn’t figure it out how to rent a bike.
Which leads me back to Velib. It was quite complicated to work out as a tourist to get a short term one day hire with a 150EUR deposit. Their system works, but it was fairly convoluted.
Informed by my CTC newsletter, Velib celebrated its first birthday on 15th July. A lengthy PDF document is linked by CTC exploring the myths of Velib. I made a copy of the Velib PDF too.
Now for my comments. The bike design is excellent.
Velib bicycles use a Revo-shift Lever and Bell Crank (SL-3S35-E) from Shimano. A hub gear solution that’s very reliable and easy to maintain. I chose this very configuration with my Helkama bicycle.
Interestingly on the bell crank, they fixed a steel frame around the part:
This is a very good idea as I damaged my “bell crank” whilst wrenching it out of a bike holder on a train to Guildford. The bell crank once damaged kept falling off and I had to get the boys at Halfords (their 15GBP a year bike care plan is amazing good value) to retap the bolt to fix it.
- The free tourist maps from the metro do not show Velib locations which is a sin.
- Sometimes stations are full or closed and it would be good if there was some system where you could see on a map the inventories of nearby Velib stations
- It’s easier to cycle in Paris than in London
- I met a local who says it isn’t good for him as there are often not enough bikes, so he bought his own bike. That’s fair. I think Velib should be a “backup solution” for most Parisians. Good for strikes. ;)
Anyway, well done to the French. Velib is definitely the best example of a successful alternative city transport scheme.