In case you haven’t heard, the City of Lights has become the City of Bikes. Paris has transformed into one of the best biking cities in all of Europe.
In fact, Wired named Paris one of the 20 Most Bike-Friendly Cities on the Planet. And with mayor Anne Hidalgo’s ambitious mission to make Paris the world capital of cycling, a bike ride is hard to pass up when you come for a visit
It’s a good thing too because Paris is full of charming backstreets and undiscovered neighborhoods that the everyday traveler misses when riding the Metro or bus.
When you hop on your bike, you will not be alone. Parisians have an infatuation with bicycling. You will often see elderly women racing down the busy Rue du Rivoli without a helmet or businessmen in tailored suits riding alongside delivery boys — all on bikes.
Before you grab a bike and criss-cross the city, we’ve put together this guide to help make your Paris biking experience safe and enjoyable.
How to Bike Safely In Paris
The good news is that Paris officials are 100% behind creating the safest bike city in the world. They voted unanimously to spend €150 million ($164.5 million) on expanding and improving its biking infrastructure, which includes over 40,000 bikes for sharing and a bike superhighway with zero cars and state of the art safety measures.
Despite high bike awareness among auto drivers, Paris is still a busy city. Riding smart is the best way to stay safe. Here are five tips to keep in mind:
1. Pay attention to your surroundings. If you are riding during rush hour, expect some wild traffic. People really want to get home! Find backstreets for a calmer ride. Look for bike lanes painted on the streets. Watch out for pedestrians crossing the street or buses driving in the bike lanes. Ride defensively assuming that no cars see you.
2. Follow the rules of the road just as you would in a car. Don’t run red lights, don’t cut people off, and make sure you don’t go the wrong way on a one-way road (unless the bike lane indicates – SAUF). You are not allowed to bike on sidewalks, so walk your bike if you need to get off the road.
3. Don’t wear headphones. This is not a Paris rule, but a universal urban bike safety thing. When you are sharing the road with cars, buses, and people, you need all of your senses to stay alert.
4. Use clues and your senses to navigate. The best part of biking in Paris is when you turn down a random road and within minutes you realize you’re lost. Don’t worry! Getting lost is normal. Paris is full of signs and maps are easy to navigate. Just make sure to study a map before you ride or pull off to the side of the road if you need to.
5. Avoid the door zone. Car doors are an urban biking hazard. When a door opens directly into your space, it’s difficult to anticipate. Try to leave enough space when passing any stopped car — including parked ones.
If you’re nervous about riding in Paris for your first time, consider going on our bike tour. We’ll get you acclimated to the rules of the road and show you the best places to go on your own.
We also rent bikes and fuel riders with some of Paris’ best coffee. Click here for more on Bike About Tours and Cafe Peloton. We look forward to hearing about your experience biking in the City of Lights.
Bon voyage! Vélo en toute sécurité.