Photograph by Julien Hery
Paris city administration will launch an ambitious bike lending program this summer called “Velib.” The curious name is a hybrid of the French words for bicycle (“velo”) and freedom (“liberte”).
A fleet of 14,100 bicycles will be made available at 1,420 hiring spots for daily, weekly or yearly rentals. The rates? Dirt cheap. After paying a subscription fee of €1 for a day or €5 for the week, one will be able to pick up a bike and use it for free for one full half-hour. After that, your credit card gets charged at the following rates: €1 for the first half-hour, €2 for the next half-hour and €4 for every subsequent half-hour. The system is stacked in favor of short, point-to-point trips. If the city authorities deliver on the promised density of the network, it should work like a dream for visitors.
Children under 14 are not allowed to use the system and those aged between 14-18 have to show authorization from a legal guardian. More information will be available on a Web site due to launch later this year.
Work to set up the pick-up and drop-off points starts this week. The three-speed bikes will be grey and equipped with sturdy front baskets. Paris boasts over 300 kilometers of bicycle paths inside the city, and some streets are closed to traffic on Sundays and public holidays for cyclists, pedestrians, and roller-bladers. Take a look at the city’s cycle path maps.