Confession: When I first tried to use the Velib bike system in Paris, I was scared out of my mind.
Copain, Monsieur No Fear, zipped all over town, sans casque (without a helmet!!) and encouraged me to do the same (scary!!). He had gotten himself a yearly Navigo pass for trois fois rien (practically nothing), and all he had to do was swipe it on the bike stand, grab the bike and voilà. I was stuck at the machine typing in five thousand numbers from my carte bleue to check out a bike for 30 minutes and then riding in constant fear of death on the streets of Paris. Bah.
Then, for my birthday this year, Copain got me my own yearly Navigo pass and took me on Le (infamous) Tour de France. We bought a casque mid-ride at Décathalon, and Clément and I haven't left each others' sides since!
This month, I decided that instead of taking the metro to work, I would try to Velib everyday. I didn't pay for my monthly unlimited metro pass, and instead bought a carnet of 10 tickets just in case. My reasoning was threefold:
1. The monthly metro pass costs 64 Euros! (boooo)
2. You have to take the metro over twice a-day including weekends to amortize the cost. (which I'm pretty sure is not my case - I love walking home after work.)
3. The metro in the cold months is hot, sticky and cramped with a scarf, gloves and peacoat! (double booo).
Hence - VELO!
So far, so good mes amis! I've been a Velib-riding fool these past few weeks, and I've only used about 6 metro tickets for weekend outings at night. I love taking the Velib to work - it's so refreshing to ride a bike in the morning (with Clément the Casque bien sur!) I go from chez moi to the bureau in about 15 minutes depending on traffic (because, yes, I am a rule follower on the crazy streets of Paris). Now, when I have to take the metro, I get annoyed. What? No Velibs? Noooooooooo! (yeah, it happens sometimes). I've even started waking up earlier to insure that there are bikes for me to get to work. Insanity, I tell you. That's how much the Velib rocks my world.
I was reading Oh Happy Day awhile back and found this great post on the Velibs in Paris. The photos are gorgeous and the tips are spot on (merci Jordan!). Jordan explains that not many Velib-riders wear casques (which sadly, was the case!), however, but the times they are a-changin' in Paris - mais oui! I am happy to report that I am not the only casque-wearing dork dans les rues! On my way to work yesterday, I spotted four casques - five, including Clément. Copain still hasn't gotten on the band wagon, but it looks like the other Frenchies are. I feel like less of a huge nerd with my red and white head-protector and I might even take it one step further and wear a yellow reflective vest - that's what I call haute-couture.
Casques - they're all the rage.