It’s been three months since I ditched my metro card for Vélo’v, Lyon’s bike-sharing network. I learned how to bike when I was a kid, but I haven’t rolled on two wheels much since the early 90s. (Apart from the terrifying Vélib incident in Paris in 2013. Did you know that there are way too many cars and pedestrians in Paris?)
[Note: Vélo’v and Vélib get their names from the word vélo, which means bike in French.]
But it turns out that I love the Vélo’v system in Lyon. There are a lot of bike lanes and bike paths, so I feel safe most of the time, and since there are so many Vélo’v stations, I feel a kind of freedom that you don’t get when you’re confined to the metro. I just pick a bike and go. Plus, now that I don’t live in a fifth-floor walk-up anymore, I have to get in some exercise so I don’t feel guilty about taking the elevator when I get home. (To the second floor. Just because I can.)
It’s not all rainbows on wheels, though. Here are a few situations where my vé-love turns to vé-loathe:
- In the morning when there are no bikes anywhere because the early birds took them all.
- In the evening when everyone is having apéro on Presqu’île and there are no open spots at the Vélo’v stations.
- When the bike seat is too high and I have to whack it like a crazy person to get it down to where my feet can touch the pedals and people look at me like I’m a weirdo but don’t offer to help. (I’ve learned that twisting it back and forth is a better method than whacking.)
- When pedestrians amble across the bike path or the road. Do they realize how much easier it is for them to wait a second than it is for me to brake abruptly to avoid running them over even though I want to, and wait for them to saunter by while I fall off my bike?
- Oh yeah, falling off my bike. That happened this week. I have banged up hands, knees, and elbow (the right one) and a bruise the size of an avocado on my leg. It started out pink, turned purple, and today it’s black. Maybe blue and yellow tomorrow?
But still. A Vélo’v pass only costs 25€ for the entire year. That’s opposed to 60€ per month for public transport. Under twenty-fivers knock an extra 10€ off of that and pay only 15€ for the whole year. But even if you’re just visiting, you pay 1,50€ for a day of Vélo’v use, 5€ for the week, or 3€ for three days if you have the Lyon City Card (whatever that is.) Just go to one of the many red Vélo’v stations to buy a ticket.
The first 30 minutes of each ride are free (60 minutes with certain passes), and then there’s a small extra charge per hour. But you can just switch out your bike for a new one at any station to avoid paying extra.
For more information, visit http://www.velov.grandlyon.com/.
Have you ever used a bike sharing system? What did you think?