This might not a be a big triumphant to the average person. In fact, it probably isn’t an accomplishment of any kind, except to perhaps me, who is delighted to announce that I finally rode a Vélib’ on the streets of Paris. For those that have no idea of what I’m talking about, the Vélib’ is a public bicycle rental program in Paris launched three years ago in which you could rent a bicycle at one of the many pick-up/drop-off locations throughout the city and drop it off at another point.
I’ve always wanted to ride one of the bicycles and be “Parisian,” but never had the guts to do it; riding alongside speeding cars and scooters just always seemed so daunting to me. How I did finally manage to gather the chutzpah to do so was just a set of circumstances.
Saturday night had been spent watching Glee and then off to a bar in Bastille. If you can imagine a map, you’ll realize that I live quite far from Bastille and have to change métro at least once. So when the last trains started rolling, I was betting my luck that ligne 8 would reach La Motte Picquet in time for me to catch the 10 train back to Auteuil. And all would have worked out if I hadn’t fallen asleep and missed the station by two stops. The clock already read 2 AM so the chances of me catching the train were incredibly slim if I were to back track. Funny, though, that the station I was at was one that I had passed earlier on during the day via the 62 bus when I was heading over to Porte de Versailles for the Salon du Chocolat. All right, so I figured that I would walk home.
It would be a bit of a walk, though. I would surely have to cross the bridge back onto the right bank and that would take at least half an hour at my pace. To my right I noticed a rack full of Vélib’ bicycles. I turned to look at the empty streets and decided that if any time was my chance to do it, now would be perfect – no traffic and a straight commute home (there is a drop-off point right by my apartment building).
And all went well; I did almost veer into some parked cars out of fear when a speeding car blitzed by me, but for a newbie, it was a pretty positive experience. The only trouble that resulted was my attempt to return the bicycle. Apparently it has to click in solidly for the Vélib’ to be accepted; that took me quite some time to figure out, but in either case, I was proud of myself and headed back up to my apartment for a good night’s sleep.