On-line Guide: VELO BLEU
Posted Feb 2018 in Guest Info
In July 2009 Nice’s mayor Christian Estrosi launched Vélo Blue, the Riviera’s first bike-sharing program. Following in the footsteps of the popular Vélib' bicycles in Paris. For little more than the price of a baguette you can unlock a bike, give the traffic and taxis a miss, and tour the city in eco-style.
Each stand is home to ten (yes, blue) bikes. These are free to use for up to 30 minutes. Buy a Vélo Bleu pass (€1 per day, €5 per week or €10 per month), choose a bike and cycle to your destination, returning the bike to any nearby stand. Keep a bike long than 30 minutes and you’ll pay €1 for the first additional half an hour, then €2 per hour thereafter. Alternatively, cheapskates can return the bike after 29 minutes and grab another straight away. The bikes are also fitted with a combination lock, dynamo lights and handy basket – large enough for the requisite braid of garlic and bunch of flowers on the front.
To register with Vélo Bleu is sadly a bit of a bind. First, users go through a one-time automated telephone registration, also available in English. You’ll be asked to type in your credit card details, authorising Vélo Bleu to debit your account for your pass fee as well as 150 euros should you fail to return a bike.
Next up, grab a bike from a stand by selecting the ‘Subscribe here’ (English) option from a computer at one of the bike stands. Choose the duration of the pass you’d like to purchase (e.g. 1 day). The computer screen flashes a specific number you must call from your mobile (note all calls are free): the Vélo Bleu database identifies you, charges your credit card and activates your chosen pas.
Finally, select ‘Find a bike’. Call the number it gives you and the database identifies you; you are then instructed to choose your bike. The bike is automatically unlocked from the stand. Unplug lock and ride off.
The system remains a little complex, but perseverance and patience are rewarded many times over. With the amount of Vélo Bleu being ridden about, it can’t be too difficult can it?
Thankfully, Nice’s long flat Promenade des Anglais is ideal for cycling. Exploring the city’s neighbourhood further afield – for example Cap de Nice or the elegant, free entry Musée des Beaux-Artsa in residential Les Baumettes – is a fun and alternative day out. The eventual addition of extra stands and bike lanes will also make Cimiez home to both the Matisse and Chagall Museums, easily accessible by bike. Best of all, just €1 will keep you pedalling all day.