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Paris Respire Cycling

Sydney, Australia
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Paris Respire Cycling

G’day all – I’m looking forward to experiencing the Paris Respire on our one Sunday in Paris in late October – we’ll have our own bicycles . I’ve checked out the paris.fr/loisirs/… web site with all the maps and all . Didn’t realise the areas covered were so extensive , including where we are staying in Montmartre . I’m thinking we may be able to do several of these areas , including the Quartier des berges de la Seine and the Canal St Martin , and others if possible .

Does anyone have any thoughts ideas , experiences , comments on this activity ? Pros & Cons? We’re prepared to spend most of the day taking advantage of the closed roads . Is it easy to cycle between the different areas ? Being Sunday and with some major areas closed to traffic , does this mean there is additional traffic congestion on the roads which are open ? Is the idea as idyllic as it sounds ? ie no cars and just pedalling away enjoying the areas of Paris (given there will be lots of cyclists , rollers , prams etc ) In any case this was one of the first activities I had planned for our time in Paris . Thanks all for any responses

Edited: 29 July 2014, 10:30
Paris, France
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1. Re: Paris Respire Cycling

Paris Respire is a good idea, but in large part, it is geared towards pedestrians. Most of the designated areas in the Marais, where I live, are usually so full of people shopping that it would be difficult to ride there most of the time.

I think it would be a better idea to download a bike route map of Paris, and that way you could more easily find connecting routes to different neighborhoods.

the big blue marble
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2. Re: Paris Respire Cycling

We use it often. You can cycle alone the Berges de la Seine, cross the river to the Quais de la Seine and then head up the Canal St Martin. The program was invented for everyone, but as Patty mentions, there are alot of inconsiderate pedestrians who block the roads in Sun shopping areas like the Marais and Montmartre. They are easiest to cycle through before lunch time and can necome annoying by late afternoon.

Paris, France
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3. Re: Paris Respire Cycling

As someone who cycles a lot in Paris I can say that I find Parisian drivers quite respectful of cyclists and I never worry about whether I'm in a bike lane or sharing the road with cars. I have never been beeped at or given the finger in over four years of cycling in Paris. The most important thing is to cycle with confidence and get used top the fact that buses, cars, motorcycles etc. will be in close proximity with you. While motor vehicles certainly present the greatest danger of injury you are in far more danger of having an accident caused by a pedestrian. Pedestrians often wander into bike lanes without looking and step off the curb without looking because they don't hear an engine. I find the most likely place for an accident to occur while cycling will be in those bike lanes that are on the sidewalk and not in the road. Pedestrians are often completely clueless and often wander into these cycling lanes precisely because they are on the sidewalk.

However, before you get on a bicycle in Paris I would suggest that you spend one day exploring on foot and watch how the Parisian cyclists ride in traffic. I would also suggest that at the same time you study the various types of bike lanes, traffic lines in the road, signs and other traffic indicators so you have some familiarity before you get on a cycle. Certainly you will likely feel most comfortable starting your cycling journey by sticking to those places with bike lanes and minimal/no traffic but once you've gotten used to it I would encourage you to cycle anywhere you desire within the city. Heck, I like to ride around the rotary at the Arc de Triomphe or the Place de la Concorde just for fun and do not find it scary in the least.

I'll also mention that weekends are the best time to cycle in Paris as traffic is the lightest on those days. If you have your own bikes I would highly recommend a late night or early morning ride in Paris when the streets are almost empty. Between midnight and 7AM is a great time to cycle in Paris. You'll also find that places like the Marais and Latin Quarter or around Châtelet-les-Halles are fantastic places to cycle during these hours as they are otherwise packed with pedestrians during the day.

Sydney, Australia
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4. Re: Paris Respire Cycling

Thanks Patty , just the sort of local knowledge I'm looking for , I think we may avoid the Marais area on that day ! Take your point regarding velo route maps of Paris and will do

Sydney, Australia
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5. Re: Paris Respire Cycling

Thanks phread - I note your advice re earlier morning excursions rather then later in the day and the connecting roads

Sydney, Australia
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6. Re: Paris Respire Cycling

Thanks FM , I am a regular commuter , training bunch rider in Sydney , which mostly is a very bicycle unfriendly city , however once you know your way around and avoid the bad routes , it is quite good , But in Paris , we're there for only 8 days so I'm trying to be as well informed as possible . Like your idea of early morning rides , I'll give that a go as well , not so sure if my wife will join me at 6am though ! Pedestrians arte the same everywhere I believe . Your advice and reports over several web sites are much appreciated by myself

cheers steve

Paris, France
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7. Re: Paris Respire Cycling

ruffred - I have gone bike riding with many, many Aussies and know the horrors and dangers cyclists are exposed to there. You'll find none of that nasty attitude directed towards cyclists here that you experience in Australia. Once you get used to it you'll be hooked and you'll want to ride everywhere you go in Paris.

I will add, however, that bike theft of nice bikes here is a problem. So if you are bringing nice bikes be sure to lock them well and if you have quick release tires and seats I would remove your front wheel and lock it to the frame, run your lock through the back wheel and frame and remove your bike seats and carry them with you. This is the reason you'll see most Parisians who own bikes riding crappy bikes. I have a nice bike and when I lock it I never leave it for long periods of time and generally make sure it is not out of my eyesight.

Sydney, Australia
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8. Re: Paris Respire Cycling

Thanks again FM , yes we'll be bringing our "nice" bikes . I've never felt "theft threat" in French regional areas before but certainly take your point re Paris , we do similar in Sydney . We're certainly excited about our Paris cycling week at the end of our holiday . Cheers Steve

Paris, France
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9. Re: Paris Respire Cycling

It is true that "Paris respire" areas are mostly occupied by pedestrians and roller-skaters, but usually the space is large enough for cyclists to (cautiously) blend in. The only part that is virtually impossible to cycle is rue des Francs-Bourgeois in the Marais: it is basically an open-air shopping mall, chock-a-block with shoppers and quite a narrow street on top of that. Plus, for some reason, there are plenty of cars around (yes, local residents are allowed in, which considerably takes the charm out of the operation)

Re attitude towards and from cyclists, I can share my own schizophrenic experience: as a good Parisian, I am alternatively a pedestrian, a motorbike rider (not scooter, real motorbike), and a cyclist. I confess: as a pedestrian I sometimes forget that I am in the middle of a bike lane, which attracts me copious abuse from cyclists. Because in Paris, it's apparently Sydney down under (as it should!): bicycles are the least behaving persons/vehicles to be found on the streets of Paris. For starters, they NEVER stop at red lights, they tend to think that it is OK to take one-way streets the wrong way, and, most of all, they are always right, not to say righteous. But after all, they/we are sweating away for the sake of the planet, so they/we deserve a bit of respect! As for scooters, they do not think twice in squatting bike-only lanes, which is not nice (but by definition they go faster, so the damage is limited). Scooters and motorbikes also tend to "steal" some of the 18,000 parking posts that the city administration created for push-bikes, which is not very considerate either.

Finally, you must know that, beyond the Paris Respire Sundays, there is a permanent network of bike lanes in Paris - well, the City cheats a bit, since some of them are shared with buses, which doesn't give you the same comfort and safety. At a combined 700 km, it is not Copenhagen or Berlin, but we've come a long way from virtually nil 13 years ago. You can download the network and some suggested itineraries on this page from the City of Paris website:

paris.fr/pratique/deplacements-voirie/velo/c…

by specifically clicking on: "Le plan "Paris à Vélo, le bon plan" (juin 2012) au format pdf "

There are also plenty of "Paris by bike" guide books that you can purchase on Amazon or at major bookshops in Paris.

Paris, France
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10. Re: Paris Respire Cycling

<<For starters, they NEVER stop at red lights>>

Actually, I work at a bar at a very busy intersection and based on my observations the cyclists here ALWAYS stop at the red light. ;)

OK, not always but neither do all pedestrians always obey traffic rules. Pedestrians don't always use crosswalks and when they do not all of them always wait for the pedestrian light to turn green before crossing. There is enough bad behavior among all those commuting in Paris (pedestrians, cyclists, motorbikes, cars) to spread the blame around. ;)