Saturday, August 30, 2008

Cycling in Paris

Bad photo of my chinny chin chin.
I somehow developed a double chin while in France. Probably due to the fact that ate nothing unless it was made in a boulangerie (French for bakery) . . . . mmmmm, bakery.

While in Paris, do as the Parisians. A beret suits me, don't you think?
The entire time in France I did not see one person wearing one, just stoopid tourists like me trying them on.

We spent the first day in Paris walking around and by the end of the day I was shattered. I compare it to Christmas shopping - walk, stop, walk, stop . . . . killed my back. Paris, being a bike friendly city, we decided to cycle around seeing the sights. We didn't have to search around for a bike shop because the city has bike stations everywhere. It takes a few minutes to set up an account using your credit card at a kiosk which is beside the bikes, then you're ready to go. It worked out to be one Euro (about $1.60 CDN$) a day to rent a bike - cheap as chips!

These bike stations were everywhere. Once you were done with them, park them in the locking stand, and you can put them in any station - no need to return it from where you took it. Simple. More cities should do this: cuts down on auto traffic, encourages some physical fitness, cuts down on pollution, etc. Just awesome. Bikes are comfortable to ride, internal braking (hub brakes), three speed grip shift, lights on front and back, kick stand, bell, chain guard and a basket.

One time we had trouble putting a bike back in it's lock ( a little green light comes on to let you know it accepted the bike - turned red instead). At each kiosk there is a intercom where you can call a central bike station dispatch and they were able to help us through a computerized system. Simple again.

Chrissie in front of the Eiffle Tower.

At intersections where you had to stop (there are roundabouts everywhere too - keeps the traffic flowing) there were the regular traffic lights for the cars, then there were traffic lights for cyclist at their eye level. Another example of how the French society embraces cycling - and it wasn't just in Paris, but every town and city we visited.

My basket was broken off. Note the lock - each bike also had a lock on it, just in case you didn't want to dock it at a station or had to run into a store or something.

Bike lanes everywhere. Where there were no marked bikes lanes, cars gave cyclist a ton of leeway to ride. I wouldn't call French drivers "aggressive", but rather 'confident and assertive', they still have a tremendous amount of respect for cyclist. North American drivers please take note! Cyclists too were assertive, they didn't flinch in traffic and stuck to their lanes and would often jump out in traffic whenever they needed to make a lane change with confidence.

View from the bars.


The Vegan Vagabond said...

I rode those bikes in Paris too. They were so awesome!

Anonymous said...

North American drivers suck big ones.
I've been to Costa Rica a couple of times (3rd world country we call it, I call it over developed). I never had any problems on the roads there.
Its a mess of people in places.
But, for the most part drivers give cyclists plenty of room. Even the drunk ones!
(I think its legal to drink and drive there... in Costa Rica, anything goes!)

Pink Girl Dresses said...

I have been to Paris on bike, that too wearing Girls Christmas dresses