Velib (Self-Service Bicycles)Parisian Velib service was introduced in July 2007 and has been quite successful.

There are over 1200 automated Velib stations, with more than 18,000 bicycles, located throughout Paris. There is roughly one station every 300 meters throughout Paris, making Velib the largest system of its kind in the world. These self-service bicycles are a healthy (for you and the environment) alternative to standard mass transit. One of two simple subscriptions, either one-year or short-term, provides unlimited access to the system including 30 minutes free for each rental with a nominal charge after the first half-hour.

Instructions at each station are available in 5 languages, including English. Some limited information is also available in English at http://www.en.velib.paris.fr.

Note that the machines will not take credit or bank cards that do not have a smart chip (‘puce’), so many international cards are ineffective with the exception of certain bank cards.

With respect to security concerns, please aware that helmets and protective equipment are advised, but not mandatory in Paris. Given the recent introduction of Velib, many motorists are slowly accepting the new influx of bicyclists. Ride with caution and remember that you are still responsible for adhering to the rules of the road.

Some of the Velibs parked at the stations and available for hire may have mechanical problems. To indicate when there is a problem with the bike it has become common to rotate the seat 180 degrees so that it is pointing backwards. This practice avoids wasting time picking up faulty bicycles and shows the staff which bikes require attention.

Autolib’ (Self-Service Cars)

After the success of Velib, Paris began Autolib’ in December 2011 which is based on the same principal.

There are currently about 500 parking and charging stations throughout Paris that keep about 3000 electric cars on standby for the Autolib’ subscribers. You may take a car from one station and keep it for as long as you need it and then return it to its original station or deposit it at another. You must either have a valid French drivers license or a foreign license with an international drivers license.

There are several membership levels ranging from 1 day to 1 year and subscription rates vary accordingly. In addition there is an initial 20 minute fee and then a rate for every 30 minute interval thereafter depending on your membership.

The official website https://www.autolib.eu is in English and is extremely user-friendly. The mairie of Paris also maintains information on the Autolib’ system, although it is entirely in French. http://www.paris.fr/autolib

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