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A New Bike Service in Paris
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You’ll probably see people riding bikes looking like the one above if you go to Paris anytime
soon.  The Paris Mayor’s office opened a new service on July 15, 2007, and tourists can use
it as well as residents.  Basically you can take a bike from one point in Paris, ride it to your
destination and drop it off there.  The service is amazingly affordable.  29 euros for a year
(!), 5 euros for 7 days, or 1 euro for 1 day.  Here is the web site where you can sign up:  
www.velib.paris.fr
There are about 750 bike stations in the system, so they are located approximately every
300 meters.  If you keep the bike for over a half hour there are additional charges, which are
billed to your credit card which the system has on file.  For example, if you keep the bike for
an extra 30 minutes, you will be charged another euro.  If you keep if for an additional hour,
you will be charged 2 euros.  So the thing to do is ride the bike to your destination, and then
turn it in right away at a bike station nearby.  The web site has the locations of all the bike
stations by arrondissment.  

There was one amusing item on the French News on TV5 last night which reminded us of
our tour guests.  It seems that nobody wants to ride the bikes uphill!  So at stations in the
city that are elevated locations, there are often no bikes available.  People take those and
deposit them at a downhill station, which are full of bikes.  So the system needs to keep
transferring bikes from stations lower in elevation to the higher ones.  Or perhaps they need
to convince people it is healthy to ride uphill.  There is a person whose job it is to monitor all
the stations and direct bike transfers, but at present they are having a hard time keeping up
with transfers.

At any case, Paris is trying to encourage bike riding in the city with this new service, and it
seems like a great idea.  You might want to give it a try the next time you’re in Paris,
especially if you are heading downhill!
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