I told you so but some of you didn’t want to believe me. The triumphant Velorution which has been taking place in Paris since Bastille day is winning over Ken Livingstone and also the British conservatives. They now all want their own freedom cycling scheme for London.
In just two months, according an investigation from Le Figaro, the 10,600 vélibs (short for vélo-liberté) have been used five million times. On September 8 alone, every single bike was rented 13 times. Parisians have been back at work for at least three weeks and are using them as often as tourists did during the summer, if not more. Jean-Claude Decaux, Vélib’s boss, was right when he said in an interview on Day One of Vélib that this was “no gadget”, predicting its success would be “énorme”.
Sure, winter may dent vélibists’ determination; however, it seems that vélib has now entered most of Parisians’ lives. They like the freedom it gives them. They also like the romance. Indeed, according to Charles Bremmer in the Times, Vélib has become the new romantic game for Parisians always hungry for new adventures. Ask Anna, a Finnish woman in Paris, and see the sparkle in her eye.
Parisian bachelors (célibataires in French) who are polishing their seduction skills around vélib platforms are now called vélibataires. A damsel in distress will always find her Fred Astaire to help adjust her seat or unlock her vélib. Is this the return of gallantry and old-fashioned civility in the streets of Paris?
Beware though, vélib may for some mean trouble for the family, as an eager mother of two discovers while filming her sulking husband on their first vélib outing. Vélib can also be an excuse for display of biking bravado. In other word, vélib reflects the three major moods of the Parisian: brooding, boasting and flirting.
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