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Thread: Velib in Paris

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    Senior Member bmthom.gis's Avatar
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    Velib in Paris

    Hey all,
    Happy Friday! So, the wife and I are embarking on a Paris vacation in about 2 weeks, and I was wondering if anyone here had any experience using Velib...I've never used a bike share program before, and saw online I can get a 7 day unlimited pass for fairly darn cheap. Awesome. I have even convinced the wife to join me using it. I also know that as long as you only ride for 30 min or less no other costs are acquired.

    I guess more specific questions are: Is it usually fairly easy to find the bikes and then an empty docking station when done, and are the bikes kept in fairly decent mechanical shape? Is there anything I am missing?

    Cheers!
    "All of the true things that I am about to tell you are shameless lies."

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    GATC
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    We could not use velib when we were in Paris in the spring because we did not have a European credit card (chip & PIN). Could not use any vending machines w/ our magnetic strip cards*. Needed cash to buy metro tickets. That was also the case in Norway 4 yrs ago. US is behind the credit card security times.



    *could use mag strip debit cards in ATMs to get cash though!


    Oh I see I didn't answer your questions; the bikes and stations were everywhere it looked fantastic. We only looked into picking up bikes from the stands, which required a compatible credit card on the spot. If you can buy a pass somewhere else maybe that would be all you would need.
    Last edited by HardyWeinberg; 11-07-14 at 11:45 AM.

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    Disco Infiltrator Darth Lefty's Avatar
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    I used it on my honeymoon. The bikes were fine, so cheap as to be nearly free, the app worked well, and riding in Paris was fun.*

    You don't absolutely need a European credit card because you can buy a membership online or in the app instead of at the kiosk. However, it is absolutely necessary to have your smart phone running the app, to find bikes or empty spaces. There's a daily flow of bikes from hotel areas to tourist areas and back, and if you set off for the Arc or the Tower or the Louvre at lunch time you'll need the app to find a station with a bike near your hotel or a station with a free spot on the Rue de Rivoli.

    On thing I got but I had to explain to my wife, it's not an all-day rental, it's a share. You don't park the bike at the cafe, you put it in the station and get another one when you leave. If you come up on the 30 minute limit you swap bikes. People tend to get bikes at the top of hills and ride them down, then not return, so there's feature of the system that if you ride a bike significantly uphill, you get credit.




    * I had fun, my wife was terrified and hated it
    Last edited by Darth Lefty; 11-07-14 at 12:42 PM.
    Genesis 49:17

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    Senior Member bmthom.gis's Avatar
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    Thanks! I was also trying to decide to try and just use wifi there or just add global roaming capabilities for the trip. I think I'll just add the global roaming. As for the credit card thing, you can now purchase a pass online, so that's great. Silly American credit cards. Glad to hear the bikes are generally in good shape, and I think it is all of 8 Euros for a week. I'm confident I could get around anywhere but the wife says no. Maybe I'll have to race her when she takes the metro and I take a bike at some point hehe. Or maybe this is the trip that enlightens her to how great getting around by bike is
    "All of the true things that I am about to tell you are shameless lies."

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    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
    People tend to get bikes at the top of hills and ride them down, then not return, so there's feature of the system that if you ride a bike significantly uphill, you get credit.
    They should do that here, not with hills but with against-the-flow commuting. I don't mean riding against traffic. I mean we have a big problem with Citibike, NYC's bike share program, which happens to use the same bikes as Velib. The problem is that some stations don't have bikes because they are popular pick-up spots. Others are full, because they are popular drop-of spots. It's similar to the parking problem in cities and to crowded subways on popular routes. Someone just mentioned they should have incentive pricing. I don't know how we should implement it, but I like the idea. They started out balancing the bikes with trucks, and they still do that. But trucks can't slip through traffic, and traffic in NYC is insane. So now they also have bikes towing trailers, where the trailer can hold four bikes. Imagine having that job all day long, balancing the docking stations on a bike.
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

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  6. #6
    Senior Member bmthom.gis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noglider View Post
    They should do that here, not with hills but with against-the-flow commuting. I don't mean riding against traffic. I mean we have a big problem with Citibike, NYC's bike share program, which happens to use the same bikes as Velib. The problem is that some stations don't have bikes because they are popular pick-up spots. Others are full, because they are popular drop-of spots. It's similar to the parking problem in cities and to crowded subways on popular routes. Someone just mentioned they should have incentive pricing. I don't know how we should implement it, but I like the idea. They started out balancing the bikes with trucks, and they still do that. But trucks can't slip through traffic, and traffic in NYC is insane. So now they also have bikes towing trailers, where the trailer can hold four bikes. Imagine having that job all day long, balancing the docking stations on a bike.
    Darth...
    Winning the Uphill Battle
    Cool! Good share, there. Thanks.

    noglider - I've heard about that problem. That job actually sounds pretty good compared to some others out there.
    "All of the true things that I am about to tell you are shameless lies."

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    Senior Member G1nko's Avatar
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    We've been to Paris many times. Since people have already answered your Velib questions, let me add to your wifi decision as we just got back from a 2-week trip in September-October and tried for the first time to do the wi-fi only thing.

    It's do-able, but don't rely on Boingo. I got a Boingo subscription and it was worthless. The only places I got wifi reliably were our apartment (obviously) and in cafes. Eventually we gave up and added data roaming to one of our phones. Totally worth it for data on-the-go.

    For voice, I put $5 on Viber and made calls over wi-fi. I made half a dozen local calls and 3 calls back to the US. One of those US calls was to a land line and lasted 13 minutes. Of my $5, I used $0.59 to make all the calls. The call quality was crystal clear; better than cellular. This, IMO, was a much better way to go than buying international minutes.
    '11 WorkCycles Secret Service | '98 Waterford 1250 | '87 Trek 330 | '75 Peugeot UO-8 | '48 Raleigh Dawn Tourist

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    Disco Infiltrator Darth Lefty's Avatar
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    Oh hey, also, be prepared to deal with scammers at the landmark stations. They know you might be stuck in place trying to figure out the system with a language barrier. We had both the ring scam and the let-me-help-you scam attempted on us. It wasn't nearly so bad as Rome in that regard, though.
    Genesis 49:17

  9. #9
    Senior Member bmthom.gis's Avatar
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    Thanks Darth. Yeah, I've read up on the scams. The wifi info os def appreciated.
    "All of the true things that I am about to tell you are shameless lies."

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    Senior Member chas58's Avatar
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    For Europe (or any country around the world), I just get a local SIM card and stick it in my phone. Cost $10-$20 (depending on the country) for about 1Gig of data + voice for 3-4 weeks. Worry free usage.

    I have used several bike share programs. The App makes a BIG difference, knowing where the stations are, and how many bikes are available. I use spotcycle, because it works in cities around the world, but of course you can usually use the local app if available.

    I think it is a great way to get around a new town. It does slow me down a lot though. I usually commute at 20-21mph, on a velib type bike I usually go about 7-8mph. Still, they are a nice way to get around town!

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