Late last week I was happy to find out that the famous Vélib from Paris is going to be popping up in NYC! Public bike systems are everywhere in Europe. Dijon, where I spent most of my time last year, used a system similar to Paris’ sauf le nom (les dijonaises call the bikes Velodi).
Today I discovered the legitimate site for the New York system that will be put in place this summer. I am so excited for this to be a part of my city. Biking is a great way to get from one place to another in a dense city scene. Whether it’s heading to meet friends at a bar late at night or rushing to work in the morning; biking saves time, is environmentally friendly and is great exercise. The only concern I have is that here in the Big Apple, drivers are insanely aggressive! Is there really going to be room for bikes on the road? I have the feeling that this could be a dangerous commuting option if the proper precautions are not put in place.
The cities that have successfully achieved bike programs do so because the culture is formed around them. Take Amsterdam for example. I learned from this blog that biking takes things to a whole new level in the Netherlands. “The Netherlands has more bikes than people! The population is 16.7 million people, yet there are 18 million bikes” (Cup of Jo). Biking is their way of life and takes priority over every other form of transportation. I don’t see the NYC cabbie giving the right away to a bike…do you?
The system will be relatively similar to France’s except for payment. In NYC, the base price will be about $10 with the first 30 minutes free. In Paris, a Vélib costs a tad more than 1 euro with the first 30 minutes free. To be honest, I was totally thrown off when I first read the price. My memory must be foggy (I will say my Parisian bike ride was late on a Samedi soir…) because I don’t remember a fee at all! I remember using a credit card at the station (in case the bike never found its way back), but I don’t remember a fee. Of course the site clearly states there is one, so I must have drunk too much wine or something…we all know that never happens in France 😉 In any right, I think $10 is a little pricey.
Another difference between the two programs is that in France you can use your metro pass to get bikes. Maybe this is something the NYC system will adopt after it gets rolling? I think it would be a convenient way to market the bikes.
No matter these little differences between the systems, it is so nice to see some healthy and environmentally friendly choices in America!
Speaking of Europe, which I constantly am, I am preparing for my summer visit back to France. I will be spending time back in Burgundy as well as Paris and then I am off to a new territory; Budapest, Hungry for a friend’s wedding. (Maybe there is a bike system there too…) I am so excited for everything, especially my friend’s marriage! It is going to be such a magical time 🙂 I am currently shopping for flights home (something I would rather not do) and many have overnight layovers. I am thinking of taking the trip that stops in Warsaw, Poland. Does anyone know anything about hostels there or nightlife? Would it be a good spot to spend the night? The other option is the Ukraine… Thoughts?
I leave you with a bit of inspiration: