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.)
[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, it gives you a 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:
- At 8:30 a.m. when there are no bikes anywhere – the early birds took them all.
- At 6 p.m. when everyone is having apéro on Presqu’île and there are no open spots at the Vélo’v stations to park my bike.
- When the bike seat is too high and refuses to budge to where I can actually reach the pedals, no matter how hard I whack it. (I’ve learned that twisting it back and forth is a better method than whacking.
- When pedestrians amble across the bike path like dazed cattle who have wandered out of their pasture. I am not skilled at this; it would be much easier for them to wait for a second than it is for me to brake abruptly and wait for them to saunter by while I try not to 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, Vélo’v pass is ridiculously affordable (it only costs 25€ for the entire year. That’s opposed to 60€ per month for public transport) and it’s a fun way to get around when the weather’s nice. If you’re comfortable on two wheels, this might just be the way to go.
How it works:
First, you buy a pass at one of the many red Vélo’v stations.
One-day pass: €1,50
Three-day pass: €3
Week-long pass: €5
Annual pass: €25, or €15 if you’re under 25 (Annual passes must be set up online.)
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.
Keep in mind: At peak times, it may be difficult to find an available bike or an available parking space.
For more information, visit www.velov.grandlyon.com.
Have you ever used a bike sharing system? What did you think?