Archive for August, 2013

Vélo promenade

Posted in Cycling, Nice at 21:25

Due to electrical problems on the train lines this morning, several commuter trains were canceled, while others had delays of an hour to an hour and a half. Sensing our 40-minute delay might indeed turn into a longer one (as it did indeed!), a colleague and I risked taking Nice city bikes, Vélo Bleu, to the office. While it did mean getting there sweaty and late, it was a gorgeous ride.

The Promenade des Anglais got bicycle lanes several years ago. More recently, bicycle paths were added all the way to Cagnes sur Mer. While I haven’t tried further than Cagnes personally, they do apparently go all the way to Cannes now. In any case, the ride to Cagnes is a very pleasant one, with views of the sea, mountains, and local architecture overlooking the Mediterranean. It takes about five minutes to interpret all the steps to rent a Vélo Bleu for the first time, but once your information is stored, it is saved, and so subsequent rentals go much more quickly. Plus it only costs one euro per hour. The ride to Cagnes from the Promenade near Nice city center (just after Place Masséna) is about 11 kilometers / 7 miles, and there are bike share racks all along the way, so you can stop at beaches and pick up another bike later.

If you’re able to ride a bike, I recommend it highly! It’s a beautiful way to see the seaside Promenade, explore the cities and beaches, and take in fresh air, all while unbothered by the cohue-bohue of stressed-out motor vehicles. Completely at your own pace, on your own schedule! I’m looking forward to my morning commute tomorrow, for which I’ll be using my mountain bike as a temporary commuter. Temporary because it can’t take paniers, which I would definitely need in cooler weather, since I’ll need to take a change of clothes as well as packed lunch. It’s best to avoid heavy backpacks when commuting, since they can affect your balance; paniers keep the center of gravity lower, which is safer. As a new bicycle commuter, I trust my mountain bike much more than my not-yet-renovated Peugeot mixte, so we’ll see how things go, and whether a city bike like the mixte would work for my commute in particular, which has steep hills, or whether I’ll decide to get a secondhand road bike that can take paniers.

If you plan to ride just the Promenade, you won’t have any worries about hills! It’s flat as can be, with just one dip and rise at the airport. And our city bikes have front paniers on them; you can secure anything you put in the panier with the bike chain (the one that unlocks from the computers). They do only have three speeds, however, and you’ll want to double-check the tires, pedals, brakes, and shifting mechanism. The biggest problems I’ve run into with our Vélo Bleu have been the shifters… some of them look fine and yet there are speeds that won’t “take”, and you can’t really tell until you’ve already got the bike. I once rode through the city entirely in third gear, which isn’t much fun when you’re trying to start a hefty steel bike from a dead stop! But if you’re on vacation, do feel free to stop at another station, return the bike, and check out a different one.