Saturday, June 30, 2007

Velib' ouch

I think I’m being a bit grumpy, but then I think it’s because I ride a bicycle like a pissed goldfish. The last time I went cycling was on Isla de Mujeres to a Turtle Sanctuary. Because I was on an island I thought there would be no traffic. There was a part of my brain that was blocking the fact that there was an airport on this island and outside of our hippyesque traveller enclave the 20th century had marched on. So, en bref, by the time we got to the Turtle Sanctuary I was terrified and had almost cycled into a moped.

On July 15th 2007 (on the day when Paris empties itself of its citizens like a haemorrhaging artery) the Velib’ scheme will begin. The idea is that you borrow a bike from one place, cycle off to another place and leave your bike there. The first 30 minutes are free and after that you pay 1€ for the first half hour, 3€ for the second and 4€ for the third and every half hour after that. The system is already in place in Lyon and seems to be working well. You do have to pay a membership to borrow the bikes, but it’s 1€ for a day, 5€ for a week and 29€ for a year.

Now apart from the fact that I ride a bicycle very badly these are why I think it’s a good reason:

· Bicycles get stolen all the time in Paris, so this is one way of avoiding having your bike stolen.

· As a cyclist you will not have to pay for the maintenance of the bike, or have to worry about where to store it.

· It’s environmentally friendly.

At this point I am struggling. You see every aspect of me is saying this is a great idea, but, it’s all well and good installing thousands of free bikes, but where are the bike lanes? I haven’t seen any extra ones being painted around the city recently. Every cyclist I know has had an accident at one point in time or another and frankly for me to get to work directly I could go round the Arc de Triomphe (if I was crazy) or I would have to ride parallel to the Peripherique (the Paris ring road).

Secondly my journey time would be longer, it would take me ten minutes to walk to my nearest post at this end and fifteen minutes at the other end. It takes me twenty five minutes to get to work at present. Nevertheless, when I was really considering this, before I realised that I would be seriously endangering my life, I did think that for the sake of not getting my metro line it would be worth it.

Which is when I realised who the people who are going to be renting these bikes are. It won’t be M. Blogue in his new range Twingo. Why would he battle the elements when he has a city efficient car with power steering and a car stereo? The amount of traffic is going to stay exactly the same. Some commuters might give up on the metro and cycle around and rush hour could turn into a scene straight from Beijing, but I mean that in the loosest sense.

Now looking into my crystal ball I look into the future and predict several things:

  1. I will be run over by a cyclist;
  2. A congestion charge will be imposed on Parisian drivers. I don’t know where the congestion zone would be, but perhaps instead of doing it by zone it will be done like the motorways and during red times you pay more than say green times.
  3. More cycle lanes will be created.

If number two and three happen, then I foresee that this scheme will be very successful. As for number one it’s just inevitable.

Oh by the way I am now on holiday 65 days of freedom. Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah...


The Moon Topples said...

Thought you might find it soothing to know that in most collisions between a pedestrian and a cyclist, it is the cyclist who is injured. So you'll probably be fine.

Enjoy your holiday.

Verilion said...

That is actually very reassuring and also gives me one more reason not to get on a bike.
And I'm trying really hard to enjoy my holiday.

Pearl said...

The scheme sounds like a good idea, even if hazardous.

Verilion said...

Hi Pearl, yeah I do think it's a good idea, I'm just wary... Anyway have you voted yet? I'm going to have a go now. How do you vote for the best lion though? It's got to be our own hasn't it?

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

Glad you are on holiday, it will be so good to get to read more of your writing!

Bike riding is great! In the country. Careful out there on those Parisian sidewalks. It's already crazy there, the idea of this makes me near panic-stricken, I cannot imagine how you'll feel traversing the already insane streets of Paris.

Good luck.

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Verilion said...

Well the bikes are all parked up now. Got back tonight and saw them in all their greeness. Shiny, new, sparkly and glistening wet, not a single one booked out. It's monsoon season apparently!


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