Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Free-Wheelin' and Fancy-Free

Last week, once my wheezing-accordion cough had subsided a bit, I borrowed a friend's bike and braved the streets and bike paths of Paris. Fun, exhilerating, terrifying (at certain moments - like when the buses come up behind you in what feels like a very narrow lane). A real change from my usual metro/walking/bus routine. So much faster! Such a better way to see the city! And hey, free exercise!

Of course this is old hat for many of my friends, who've had bikes here for years. I've held off on getting a bike mostly because I love the freedom of not owning any sort of vehicle (one of the main advantages of living in Paris, in my opinion). But come July 15th, the city is putting in place a massive bike rental program which could be the answer to my prayers -- bikes for use in stations all around the city, free for the first 30 minutes and incrementally charged thereafter (there is a membership fee of course).

I didn't think I would need another excuse to sing the praises of Paris' hip, eco-friendly mayor, Bernard Delanoƫ, but here it is. Thanks to good old Bernie, I might never again be forced to inhale the urine-soaked halls of the Chatelet metro station - surely this qualifies him for sainthood?


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