After a two-year absence — caused first by a long transit strike and then by the much longer coronavirus pandemic — I finally returned to Paris for two brief visits in the summer of 2021 and was relieved to find that the Vélib’ bike sharing system was still working fine. I nearly always found a bike when I needed one, and always found a free docking point when I wanted to return it.
In theory, the Vélib’ fleet now consists of 30 % electrically-assisted bikes (the light blue ones) and 70 % conventional mechanical bikes (the green ones). I usually took the mechanical bikes when I could — most of Paris is quite flat, after all — but sometimes the electric bikes were the only ones left.
Compared with two years earlier, I had the impression (purely subjective) that there were fewer ‘free-floating’ rental bikes on the streets. These are bikes belonging to private companies that can be rented using a smartphone and a credit card. They are called ‘free-floating’ because they don’t have fixed locations with docking points, but can be rented anywhere you find them and left anywhere you please. I have occasionally used these ‘free-floating’ bikes in German cities, but not in Paris as I find the Vélib’ system more convenient.
There are still lots of electric scooters on the streets of Paris, particularly in the bicycle lanes, but my impression (again purely subjective) is that by now most people have learned not to ride them on the sidewalks and not to leave them lying around in random places where they will be in everybody’s way.
I don’t use electric scooters myself, because I enjoy — and need! — the exercise I get from cycling. But I must admit the scooters take up much less space than cars, and produce much less pollution.
My photos and text in this post are from 2021.
See also: Vélib’ 2022 and New bike lanes in Paris.
9 thoughts on “Vélib՚ 2021”
Electric bikes? I had no idea there was such a thing! Methinks that you would lose out on the health benefits of pedaling, but then perhaps I’m just old-fashioned.
These are ‘electrically-assisted’ bikes aka ‘pedalecs’. You still have to pedal. I find them useful for going up steep hills.
Oh! I’ve never heard of them … interesting!
Thanks for the distinction between blue & green bikes. The services seems to be very useful.
Yes, I’ve always been very happy with the Vélib’ system in Paris — except for 2018, when it wasn’t working properly because of the botched changeover between the two companies.
On my river cruises I did not find out that the bikes they had were electric bikes which meant that I might have been able to use them. Next time I’ll try a little bit
With the electrically-assisted bikes you still have to pedal, just not as hard. But on the electric scooters you just stand motionless (which I can’t quite imagine myself doing).
Love the bicycles . . . hate the scooters. I’ve nearly fallen over many scooters left sitting on the sidewalks where they are not supposed to be left. I’m happy to hear they are learning not to leave them just anywhere. I haven’t seen the electric bikes but at my age, they sound very interesting.
Yes, it seemed to me that the scooters and the free-floating bikes were less of a nuisance this time than they were two years ago.