Les Velobleus

Here is something for the ecologically minded …
Since 2010, the city of Nice operates a system of bicycles on short term lease. According to our dear Leader,
the Mayor Mr Estrosi, we need to diminish the use of private cars*) in the city, and this is one of the means to this noble end.
The years have seen the number of available bikes stevelobleuadily rise, as has the number of stations where you can obtain one.
The computer data base system that is linking bikes, stations, and customers, has been very much improved since the first
faltering steps, while the bikes remain the same – too small, too heavy, and with too few gears. Apart from that, the system, once you are into it, works quite well for most of the year – then summer comes, and tourists, and persons under the alfluence of incohol who do not understand what happens, get angry, and smash up things. This is of course slightly irritating.
To be able to use the bikes you need a) a mobile phone and b) a credit card in good standing. While it is possible to sign up ”on the fly” on a street corner, I would definitely recommend against it as the voice menu you are supposed to pick your way through is extremely difficult, besides being steadily accompanied by a little jaunty jazz manouche guitar jingle that makes it even harder to understand than it already is as the traffic around you continues unabated by your high-minded endeavours. Rather, start at home by your computer, the webadress is www.velobleu.org, and register your mobile phone and credit card number – when you next need a bicycle in Nice, look up one of the stands, press the appropriate on/off button, and follow instructions (French/English/Italian).

It is cheap – base rate for one day i EU 1, for one week EU 5, for a month EU 10, and for a year EU 25. The first 30 minutes are free, meaning, after 25 minutes you change bicycle, which you can do as many times as you please.
The problems are that stands may be out of bicycles (or there are four, all with flat tyres), or, conversely, you want to leave your bike, but the stands are saturated and there is no room. This is particularly so around major holidays (July 14th comes to mind).

Remember to wear a helmet. Besides being protective, since in France bicycles are either sporting implements or toys, and noone uses protective clothing playing, the helmet will indicate that you are, in fact, a sportsman, and entitled to the respect due a veteran bicyclist. Strangely, this works (at least sometimes), and you may find that people will yield right of way to you. Still, entering downtown Nice circulation on a little bike is not for the faint of heart – wherever possible, stick to the demarcated cycle lanes.

And there is one of the problems. Some of the bike lanes just – stop. Suddenly, they, cease to be. They are no more. No excuse or explanation given.
At other times, something of a higher priority ensues, such as a petanque festival, or the need for a stand that sells T-shirts for the jazz festival, and they are out of space so … guess what.

2015-07-25 10.41.06 Yup. ”You were going there? Well … sorry mate, still, no worries, eh?” Indeed.

This summer, 2015, the bikes have been in terrible disrepair. Sometimes, 4 or 5 bikes have been tried consequently, and all found in more or less dire straits. Flat tires. No saddle. Mostly, though, the hub being dysfunctional! Of course this should be reported, but … did I tell you about Velobleu’s ansaphone? With the jazz manouche jingle? Well. Why somebody couldn’t think of an app to do the reporting is beyond me. Unfortunately, so is constructing an app.

*) He claimed in a public meeting a few years ago that a poll suggested that, at any given time, of the cars circulating downtown Nice, one out of three did so because they could not find a parking place.



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