June 12, 2007

Biking in Paris


Statistics seem to prove that France has a high number of bicycles per habitant. A large part of these bikes are however more of the sporty type - racing, mountain biking etc. - and probably much more used for physical exercising than as a pure means of transportation. Paris as a biking city can for the moment certainly not be compared with some other European cities especially in the Netherlands but also at some places in Germany (e.g. Münster).

Despite considerable efforts to create special tracks for bikes here in Paris, still very few people chose this means of locomotion. I took a walk yesterday afternoon to “check”. I walked along one of the specific biking tracks from close to where I live to Place de l’Etoile, some three kilometres (or two miles). The track was desperately empty; I met perhaps five bikers, whereof one young girl - with her grandparents anxiously running after her.




It’s easy to understand certain reluctance. As a biker you are in danger in a very dense circulation, you are slow compared to all other vehicles which may not pay the same attention to you as to a bus, you have difficulties to be at the right place in the street when you have to turn left or right…




Parking is of course relatively easy and in the ideal case you just park at the metro entrance, hoping to find the bike there and in good shape when you come back (it seems that the second blue bike on my photo at the top has lost a wheel).




Part of the track I followed is perfect for a biker; you are completely separated from other vehicles, in the shadow under some nice trees. Then, suddenly the track is just something painted on the side of the street and there you will frequently find cars and especially delivery vehicles parked for a longer or shorter moment. At some places you have to share your biking track with buses and taxis.




The track I followed starts (or ends) at Place de l’Etoile. But, how do you cross this place? You must be very courageous and if possible also be well insured.









Anyhow, the further promotion of biking in Paris continues and I wish the local municipality the best of luck in their efforts! As from mid July, Paris will start what already has been made elsewhere and by the end of the year some 20 000 bikes will be available at some 1500 stations around the city, where you can pick them up or drop them off. You will be able to subscribe or just use the service occasionally for a very low cost. As a subscriber, you have even 30 minutes free of charge and an extra 30 minutes will cost 1 €.


Many of these stations will be ready in July and I have seen three of them under construction within a radius of two minutes walk from where I live.

29 comments:

Shionge said...

Wonderful post Peter...over here in Singapore the Govt is looking at ways to encourage cycling. Cyclists usually ride along the pathment which is a hazard to pedestrains.

I like the fact that bold signages are printed on the street especially the one sharing with buses :)

Thank you :) Oh I remembered staying at Little Regina Hotel and looking out of the window, I saw alot of people roller-blading too :) COol!

Olivier said...

j'adore la photo avec le petit bout de choux sur son velo. Voila une superbe idee de la ville de Paris. c'est ce qui nous manque à Evry. Avant j'allais tout les jours au bureau en velo, mais devenu dangereux, il y a eut des travaux et ils ont reduis les routes, et les voitures se fichent totalement des velos, alors je suis revenu à la voiture ;o(

Keshi said...

what a cool plan of encourgement!

Keshi.

Kate said...

It sounds as though Paris is serious about promoting biking, which I think is a smart move. While visiting Paris the last time, DH and I both remarked that it would take a bit of courage to navigate Paris streets, especially during heavy traffic. And, when isn't there heavy traffic? As I read your blogs, I am again reminded how wonderful it is to be retired: walking to check out a theory re. biking, taking care of grand-kids, having enough time to blog. So wonderful!!

Cergie said...

Superbe reportage, mais je n'ai pas bien compris (j'ai pas compris du tout) si toi même as un vélo et si tu étais à vélo pour prendre toutes ces photos instructives
Tu as toujours des bonnes idées de sujet

Je voudrais ajouter que je suis admirative de l'Allemagne et de ses vélos. Les pistes cyclables sur les trottoirs
Ce qui n'est pas évident pour un français piéton est de songer à ne pas empiéter dessus au risque de se faire klaxonner (ou sonner, ou dring-dringuer, comment dit-on pour un vélo ?)
Ceci dit j'ai moi même beaucoup de vélos à la maison et nous ne nous en servons pas. J'aimerais trouver un bon vélo de ville bien confortable où on ne soit pas couché dessus même à l'arrêt...

hpy said...

Just remember to stay on the right side of the road!

alice said...

La Place de l'Etoile en vélo? Non merci, je tiens à la vie!

Matritensis said...

The best way to move in the city.
Last year i been in Amsterdam, and i saw millions of bicycles! i never seen before nothing like that.

Bleeding Orange said...

Je rêvais de ces bornes à vélo l'an dernier quand j'habitais sur Paris !!!!! A Lyon ça fait bien longtemps qu'ils les ont adoptées et c'est super pratique.

SusuPetal said...

It's funny that when you're young, biking is easy and the heavy traffic doesn't bother you at all! But...nowadays it does. The cars -even the Minis- are huge compared with a tiny bicycle.

Leena said...

Your every post is like an article of some good quality paper or magazine!
It`s really a pleasure to visit your blog!
I remember so well this obelisk of course, but those beautiful lamps!
Are you sure, they were in their places, when I was last time in Paris - - - wait - - - I am counting, yes it was in last century, fifteen years ago!
I want to come and see them!

Peter said...

shionge:
Buses and bikes together may look nice, but they don't always go so well together!

Roller blading still goes on, and there is still some kind of rally going through the city on Sundays, but it has lost its high popularity. Fashion comes and goes. I also tried for a while, but I had to admit that it was dangerous for me and for others.

cergie:
Tu n'as pas bien lu!! J'ai un vélo, mais le texte indique bien "walking".

En Allemagne, oui on respecte les règles. Des fois un peu trop? ... les piétons qui attendent le feu vert à trois heures le matin, quand il y personne, pour traverser la rue!

matritensis:
Yes, when in Amsterdam, you have to careful when walking. There are bikes everywhere and you don't hear when they arrive. If you are not used to this, you can easily have some surprise or even accident. It's of course better to be overrun by a bike than by a bus.

bleeding orange:
Yes, I have seen that it works well in Lyon. I hope it will be the same in Paris!

susupetal:
Happy to see you to start visiting my blog.

leena:
Well, the lamp posts have not moved since 1844, but they were seriously cleaned up a few years ago. Maybe you did not notice them because of dirt and dust! I have also noted that since I recently started to blog, I look on things with other eyes! Maybe the same for you?

Abraham Lincoln said...

A very complete description of biking in Paris. I am not surprised at the results because all governments do little, really, to promote alternate ways to get around. You can provide trails, paths and highways and if a car is involved or one of the choices, most take the cars.

It would be interesting if the city closed all highways and streets in Paris for one day. I wonder how people would react and how would they get to work if there were no other methods except walking or riding a bike?

You might even have a new election.

Nice post today, Peter.

I have 1 baby raccoon today and a pile of poop!
Brookville Daily Photo

Peter said...

abraham:
There have been some tries in this direction (to close or at least to reduce the number of cars in the city center), but of course you need "exceptions to the rules"...

One thing that has been done is to give a special "ticket" to clean cars, which would be the only ones allowed to drive during more accute pollution periods. However, today all new cars get this "ticket", so hardly any cars would be forbidden.

Another way of diminishing traffic during extreme pollution periods was to allow only even or odd numbers (according to registration plates) alternative days. Has not been applied since... ?

Some cities, like London, have introduced specific tolls for cars going into the center on a more general basis, not only pollution linked. This seems to work. I have the impression that every second car in London now is a taxi.

black feline said...

biking is a good leisure...u feel free...and i love the thrill of going down slope....the wind against your face.....

mtruesd724 said...

I enjoy your photographs!

Ash said...

Love this post Peter!

pink ginger 珂琳 said...

mountain bike, racing bike as you described, I guess French nation must have a young heart.
I sure want to ride a bike to visit Paris when I visit the city. well, I can handle bike better than car, that's for sure. :)

I like this article and all pictures, very detail. I believe you must take a long time to capture the best.

oh yeah... Thanks for checking me out and your visit. I am back on the roll.

April said...

Wow-ow, you have made a great report, too (Cergie aussi). I learn a lot and it's great to see everything illustrated.

Biking paths are very poor here and in my opinion it is dangerous to go by bike. I would like to but ...

lyliane said...

En Allemagne ce sont les automobilistes qui doivent faire attention en ouvrant les portières des voitures, car comme en Hollande ce sont les cyclistes qui ont priorité.En Allemagne il n'y a que nous les français qui traversons au feu rouge, et transgressons tout ce qui est "verboten", ne sommes nous pas des frondeurs,notre devise depuis 1968 n'est elle pas :"il est interdit d'interdir".

Peter said...

To all of you, thanks for your kind comments! A special word for "pink ginger", who I have missed for quite some time. Nice to see her "back on the roll"!

ruth said...

Very interesting. I know you have no automobile days sometimes, with only bicycles and pedestrians, yes? Mayor Delanoe's invention, I think.

lasiate said...

on sent que tu traites là un sujet qui te tient à coeur!

catherine said...

je 'en reviens pas du prix de la location des vélos ; ici nous payons 20 euros à vie (c'est à dire tant que nous avons la carte)
autant en acheter un !
Moi j'ai le bonheur à Rennes d'aller au travail, au ciné etc en vélo. Je revis depusi que j'ai pris cette habitude.

final_transit said...

Impressive post!
Biking infrastructure here in Toronto is pretty good. The city is targeting a network of bike tracks that is accessible to any citizen at a distance of just five minutes.

richard said...

I've never cycled in Paris, but I've been on many cycling holidays in France. It's fair to say it's one of the most cycle friendly countries I've visited.
I mean this socially, rather than in the cycle-path sense. I suppose it's got something to do with the tradition of cycle sport, but cars treat you with respect, and hotels are delighted to host you and your bike even if you turn up covered in dead flies and sweat. They want to know where you've been, how many k's you are doing each day, have you been over the Col du... etc etc.
It's also a large country compared with the size of population, so it's easy to find quiet routes. (Sorry to hijack your post for a cycle holiday plug, Peter!)

Ming_the_Merciless said...

I love your collection of photos of the streets and bikes. How long did it take to collect all these photos?

Peter said...

Again, thanks for additional comments and for "ming": Maybe an hour or two, walking these 3 kilometers.

Sonia A. Mascaro said...

Wonderful reportage, Peter and great photos, too! Love principally the first one with the art noveaux handrail!