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i'm glad to see the trains back running but i'm bummed (and a little surprised) that the TWU got and is still getting so much crap. couldn't have said it better...


For three decades, business and political leaders have been chipping away at the social benefits that came out of the New Deal, union struggles and the expansive, post-World War II years of Western capitalism. Driven at first by economics, but increasingly by ideology, the crusade to dissolve all employer and state responsibility for individual welfare has swept like a grim reaper through pension plans, health insurance, labor rights and minimum wages. New York transit workers are fighting to stop that trend in their particular domain, not for themselves but for the next generation of workers. They are fighting against the lie that abstract, neutral economic necessity, not the ideas and interests of the rich and powerful, are driving the demolition of what remains of social solidarity. Their fight is worth supporting in itself, for the dignity and well-being of a group of hardworking women and men.

Paris Vélib Service (Vélib is short for “Velo Liberte” or “Bike Freedom”) is a city-wide bike rental service. With plans for 20,600 bicycles available on 1,451 stations, it is the largest bicycle rental project in the world.


See more info at


I place my notes, tips, tricks on Velib on my Veliblog:


Renting a Velib bike


These bikes are fun to rent and ride but, depending on how long you are in Paris, you may just want to buy a bike and lock it up outside where you are staying. I love the Velib system but it is more appropriate for short-term point-to-point transportation. If you're in Paris for more than a few weeks it may be more useful to buy a 100 euro bike at Decathalon (along with a good lock). Buying a bike is also better if you plan to ride more than just 30 minutes each time. Having said that I still like this system and use it often to get from place to place more quickly.


UPDATE (25 October 2007): The system now accepts American Express and JCB cards that do not have the EU smart chips! Good news for visitors that do not have an EU bank card.


UPDATE (28 October 2007): Be VERY careful out there... I'm sad to write that the the first fatility involving a Velib bicycle occurred on 18 October in the 13th arrondissement. This is first fatility since the service started July 15 2007. Marthe Coppel-Batsch, 59, a prominent Psychologist and Psychoanalyst, was struck by a truck near the corner of Boulevard de la Bastille and quai de la Rapée. The accident was caused when the driver of the truck could not see the bicyclist due to the "blind spot".


While the majority of Paris bike lanes are dedicated to bikes, there remains many that are shared between bikes, taxis, and buses. Riding in these shared lanes is tricky and I've found myself having to compete for space with very large vehicles that do not always see the bike riders well if at all. Bike helmets are not required nor used in Paris and perhaps they may catch on as there have 4 fatalities now involving bicyclists each year.


UPDATE: With the transit strike over, bikes are now being repaired more quickly...


The French transit strike increased ridership but conversely resulted in many bikes not getting repaired. Twice while going to rent a Velib I found many bikes in the stands that were broken. The strike made transporting the bikes to the repair depots difficult resulting in many broken bikes being left in the stands.


So, WATCH OUT for flat tires, broken chains, bent wheels, etc.


The interface is a bit confusing... but it works (eventually) and you can rent a nice bike very cheaply.


Paris Vélib Service (Vélib is short for “Velo Liberte” or “Bike Freedom”) is a city-wide bike rental service. With plans for 20,600 bicycles available on 1,451 stations, it is the largest bicycle rental project in the world.




The sturdy grey bikes come with a metal basket on the handlebars and are heavier than standard bicycles, built to withstand heavy use. In line with the program's green image, Vélib‘ maintenance staff get around town on 130 electrically assisted bicycles. A barge with 12 stops along the Seine will pick up bikes in need of major repairs. Cleaning staff drive electric vehicles and use rain collected on the roofs of JCDecaux offices


Shimano (brake systems)

Prowheel (core hardware)

Nexus (gear shifts, cables, etc)


The bikes are 3 speed “roadster”-type bikes.


I had some luck as when I arrived at the Jaures station as there was a ratp truck unloading new bikes. I spoke to the RATP employees and found out there are currently about 13,000 bikes in place right now with plans to have 20,600 by the end of the summer in 1,451 stations. The bikes just arrived a few days ago (on the 15th of July – right after bastille).


I walked down to the Jaures Vélib station and rented one! It’s a pretty cool bike; a bit particular looking but no one seems to mind riding them. I road it about 30 minutes and it did well. It’s not meant for comfort so watch out for bumps in the road and cobblestones. It has 3 speeds so is fairly flexible. It also has lots of illumination so seems fairly safe at night (I’ll try it tonight and see how it goes).


You have to buy a Vélib pass first:


Daily card is 1 euro

Weekly card is 7 euros

1 YEAR is 29 euros


To get the 1 year card you have to go online and sign up and get an “abonnement”. Most people visiting Paris will probably want to just get a bike for 7 days then check it in/out as needed over the 7 days.


UPDATE: I've found that I can get the Velib yearlong form online and link it to my metro pass by mailing in the form (along with a check for 29 euros and an authorization for 150 euros) to the Velib HQ outside Paris. Once this is done I can much more easily get a bike by just passing my navigo card over the sensor! The process to get the Navigo metro card linked to the Velib system is lengthy and requires several forms to be filled out (very very French).


The three choices do involve a 150 Euro “deposit”. That is, if you don’t return the bike within a certain amount of time you will be charged 150 euros.


There is a 13 point legal summary that you must accept to obtain a Vélib pass (one of the annoying features is having to read through the entire legal acceptance form on a small screen) NOTE: I have since found that you can "skip" the entire text. Another issue is that when you pay with a bank card you have to switch to a different interface screen. The Main interface (a color plasma screen) for the details of the bike pass then the smaller LCD screen for the details of your bank card. But, it’s very similar to the RATP and SNCF machines used to get metro and train tickets (at least in the complexity of the user interface).


To get the 1 year card you have to go online and sign up and get an “abonnement”. Most people visiting Paris will probably want to just get a bike for 7 days then check it in/out as needed over the 7 days.


Either of the three choices do involve a 150 Euro “deposit”. That is, if you don’t return the bike within a certain amount of time you will be charged 150 euros.


The first two options can be done right at the Vélib station. There’s not a person there so you have to use the interface.




You can use French bank card and it looks like most ATM cards will work as well. I tried using my navigo and it worked great! I also used my Bank Card and it worked also. You can also use your navigo card (your metro pass which you can obtain free from - you’ll need to upload a photo and provide a French address – use the address you will be staying at even if it’s a hotel; the navigo card will arrive in a few days so do this before you leave)


UPDATE: The Velib system now accepts American Express and JCB cards that do not have smart chips! Good news for foreign visitors who don't have an EU smart card...




The interface says it’s in French, German, English but these languages don’t work yet (I guess they have not translated the interface so these buttons don’t do anything). So, you’ll need to read French but it’s not that hard and there are always people around willing to help. The RATP employees say there are plans to include other languages (up to 8) but right now there are only 3 (and only French is actually working right now!).


UPDATE: During the 2nd week the interface was updated and is now working in English, Spanish, and French.


Once you receive an abonnement card you will have to select a PIN (code secret) that will allow you to use your card in other stations.


Once you process a payment, you select the stall number, then go push the button on the stall corresponding to the bike you selected. Then you just go ride off into the sunset! Then return the bike at any other station.


Once you have the pass and bike you are charged based on how long you ride it – simple. If you check out a bike and ride it for less than an hour and a half it’s free! But if you ride it longer you have to pay - A supplement of 1 euro will be charged for an additional half-hour, 2 euros for another 30-minutes and 4 euros for every addition half-hour after that.


Don’t forget to push the button on the stall to get your bike! I don’t know how many people I’ve seen try to “swipe” the paper bike ticket on the navigo interface!




The bikes come with a cable lock. This is passed around a pole or other object then connects into the frame of the bike. There is a small key that will release once the cable lock is snapped into place. I've had a little bit of trouble at first then realized that after clicking one end of the cable in place, to unlock it, you must also push the cable connector in a bit further to get the key to release. It's not the thickest cable and so I prefer to keep the bike in sight when locked (if possible). Theft is not yet a serious problem for the program but it does happen. If you happen to lose the key, call the emergency number listed on the bike (01 30 79 79 30) and someone will come unlock the bike for you.




To return the bike just put it into one of the stalls. Make sure the slot is engaged. It will "click" into the slot, the light will go "yellow" then to "green" about 5 seconds later when the RFID system recognizes your bike as being returned.


If there are problems you can call Vélib’s emergency number: 01 30 79 79 30. This number is also printed on the bike's handle-bar.




JCDecaux sponsors the project in exchange for advertising rights in Paris. JCDecaux is Europe’s largest outdoor advertising company. Like a similar scheme in Lyon, where 10 percent of the city's population has a subscription to the local sharing scheme, Vélib is operated by outdoor advertising giant JCDecaux, which is footing the bill in exchange for exclusive rights to 1,628 Paris billboards.


UPDATE: I've been renting one 2 or 3 times a week and it seems to work well so far. Theft has not been a huge problem so far but it does happen. The bikes come with a lock but it is not a substantial one and is easily cut. When I stop to eat somewhere I lock it up but keep it in sight. Right now they program is regarded with some pride by parisians so it seems including the appropriate marketing and presentation has some benefits. For example, the program was marketed outside of normal medial channels (outside of France). The support infrastructure is also highly visible with specialized electric vehicles, boats, and even uniforms for the maintenance personnel. This makes sense though given that the company financing it is JCDecaux (Europe's largest outdoor advertising firm).


The UI terminals: These are two-sided. One side is the main UI for renting a bike, the other is a map and a smaller interface for obtaining the balance on your bike by entering the ticket number.


There have been glitches:


1. Terminal's are sometimes offline so no way to get a bike

2. There are bikes available but the terminal doesn't know this (RFID system goes down sometimes) so it sends you to an interface to find another Velib station.

3. Sometimes the terminals will be rebooted remotely and will be unavailable for about 5 minutes while it reboots.


The UI is based on windows VB script and runs on the Windows XP embedded OS. The BIOS is Phoenix 1.14. The hardware is a 1.3Ghz Pentium III with 500MB memory.

I don't really envy the people in there.

i wish i had photos of the fabulous sights that i passed in queens and on the bridge before getting into manhattan but i don´t... i was toting my luggage and there was an incredible amount of pedestrian traffic. so this is my only relic of the time i visited nyc and there was a transit strike.


when i arrived, my friends pointed out that my previous two visits had coincided with the two most monumental events in the history of their lives in new york: the day they moved to their current apartment in astoria and the day their new sofa was delivered. add a third event, i guess...

i had two things to do today in Manhattan: go to therapy and work for five hours at the bookstore, with a take-home pay of approximately $40. I'm staying home, but that's not why I'm supporting the transit workers right now. The guys who scramble around the elevated in the freezing cold in Queens? I rather agree they shouldn't have to do that till they're 62. Then again, I'll be in LA in two days.


UPDATE: 12:30 pm: My manager has requested that I come, and is paying for the cab. Oh, well.

(Scenes from my walk from Ridgewood, Queens, to my job on 28th Street in Manhattan on the first morning of the NYC transit strike.)


Last day of Transit Strike in New York City, things getting heated up in the streets...

thanks mta and twu

A train passed through Toronto's Spadina station on Saturday night.

The 1966 New York City transit strike was a strike in New York City called by the Transport Workers Union and Amalgamated Transit Union after the expiration of their contract with the New York City Transit Authority. The strikers were led initially by the Irish-born Michael J. "Mike" Quill, the TWU's founder, who had been the union's president since its founding. The strike effectively ended all service on the subway and buses in the city, affecting millions of commuters. The strike began on New Year's Day and lasted for twelve days. (Wikipedia)


Beat the strike, if only I have $350 in my pocket at that time... (nah)

Walking pass this bike for sale, on my way to work, one day during NYC transit strike.

The Red Cross was stationed at the Manhattan end of the bridge. I got a cup of coffee and some shortbread cookies.


(Actually, this is the second time I've received Red Cross assistance -- I got a cup of beef stew from them in 1988 after a tornado hit our house.)


The TWU should be ashamed that the Red Cross considers the situation a "disaster."

Note the grinch. A copyright violation, I imagine.


I wonder who put it up.


I haven't seen any pro-strike postering.


On Gothamist


On Gothamist again.

Not exactly what you want to see when you flip on CNN.


(Fortunately, it was referencing a report on the New York transit strike.)

Today there are considerably more people taking the LIRR from Brooklyn and Queens to Manhattan.

This was taken in the evening during last year's transit strike in NYC when hundreds commuted across the Brooklyn Bridge. I'm uploading it today for the BMA's Brooklyn Bridge website/Flickr project...


(12/22/05, NYC)

This sign has been posted on subway entrances up and down Broadway on the UWS. The first time I tried to take a picture of it a guy pushed past me and ripped it down muttering either "it's a legal strike" or "it's an illegal strike" (a crucial difference). He didn't want me taking the picture, and he didn't want to stick around and talk. (I asked).


But when I was taking this picture a young female Police Officer said something to me (uh oh, I thought), but it turns out that she was pointing out that the subway entrance across the street still had it's gates locked and said I should take a picture of that for "the full effect" (the picture did turn out too well, though, too little light).


These posters look like the subway information posters the MTA puts up for service changes. Either they put them up, or somebody wants us to think they did. They do not identify a publisher.


ANOTHER H-BOMB EXCLUSIVE! I take you inside the subway station at Grand Central while it's closed due to the transit strike! And this time I didn't have to sneak in. The NYPD officers upstairs were so nice that I didn't even have to ask them -- they asked me if I wanted to go behind the barricades, run downstairs, and take photos of the abandoned subway station. And they told me to take as much time as I needed!


This series of photos was taken on the evening of December 22, 2005 -- several hours after the announced end of the NYC transit strike, but also several hours before the subway system went back online. Normally a bustling hive of activity, here the station is eerily deserted.


And I like the yellow police tape here. It's like the entire NYC subway system is one big crime scene! And after all, the striking transit workers were committing an illegal act.

this nypd bus must have been a huge tease to some riders as it just sat there at the curb.

EXCLUSIVE! A close-up of the empty booth in the abandoned 59th Street Station on the Lexington Avenue Line, during the 2005 New York City transit strike. Two signs in the booth window:


The sign on the right says "December 19, 2005 [the last day the station was open], HAVE A NICE DAY".


The sign on the left, which apparently is typically placed in the window when the clerk is absent, reads: "I am in the station assisting customers. You'll recognize me by my burgundy blazer/vest." Ha! Even when they're not on strike, assisting customers is the last place you're likely to find subway workers. :)


And here's how I got in here: the gate at one of the entrances to the 59th Street Station was open, so I went inside and managed to snap several photos before an NYPD police officer asked me what I was doing. "Taking pictures," I replied with a grin. "You can't be in here, it's closed!" he responded. But it takes more than that to deter Harvey Silikovitz, turnstile jumper!

Outside the shuttered 77th Street Station, a sidewalk newspaper vendor holds up a New York Post with the headline that speaks for all New Yorkers: "You Rats"


Of course, this individual is among the merchants who are most adversely affected by the illegal and selfish transit strike.

You need to have at least four people in your car -- here's the checkpoint.

Trying to get a ride on the corner of Atlantic and 4th ave at 7:00am.

The recent OC Transpo (public transit) strike was deeply divisive and served only to prove that neither side could communicate effectively. Most people quickly took sides with little or no understanding of the other, the supposed bad guys. It was us-versus-them all over again. This downtown shopkeeper vented his frustrations, while many people could barely make it to work.


While most people were angry at OC Transpo or the union, the real villain was and continues to be our addiction to cars. During the strike, the roads were a mess – bumper to bumper with three-hour commutes being the norm. It was the absence of buses and the over abundant presence of automobiles that caused gridlock. I.e. cars not buses were the root of the problem. Less auto-centric planning and more pro-transit policies would lead to a more pleasant, healthier and sustainable city.


Ottawa Transportation links | Car-free Facebook Group

i left the apartment just after 7am. i'm usually in at work with coffee and setting my classroom up just before 7:30.


i was just getting to forsythe street at 7:40 today.


i told my principal i would be taking my time walking - but wow, i had no idea it would take so long to get to where i was.

i've been quite conflicted about the transit strike.


i'm a union guy and a public employee. i pay my dues, have served as 'shop steward' twice, ran for a senior position in my union. my sympathies are for the union by nature.


i also see how this strike is causing great pain upon the city and its people.


i've been on a diet for the last month and have been getting breakfast at this joint since i started. this morning the counter guy noticed the big ole camera around my neck; "you take pictures of the traffic? me too!" he says to me. "after this i'm gonna sue them".


i thought "them" meant the union and i felt a sense of guilt and shame. do i have to defend the twu? was my loss of appetite caused by that disgusting 'sue everyone attitude' or something else?


on the other hand i bought a new belt last week and those 501 jeans are looking like 550's. should i continue getting brreakfast from these guys?


i wish the strike to end when i press the 'OK' button below.

Extra bike parking put up by this office building on 3rd ave. Nice of them to do that. My workplace didn't do that. Hell, they didn't even offer shuttle service south of 33rd st. Jerks.


UPDATE: The bike parking is now gone. Basically the company is saying, "thanks for doing your part and making it into work during the strike. Now get yer fat butt back onto the subways and busses - you've gotten enough excersise for the year!" haha

..."You have the right to food money

Providing of course you

Don’t mind a little

Investigation, humiliation

And if you cross your fingers..."


imagining joe as a bus driver seems easy

Protestors met at noon at The Peace Flame on the grounds of Parliament Hill a few days ago to protest Ottawa's OC Transpo transit strike. After 52 days, finally the City of Ottawa and the transit union reps have agreed to binding arbitration to resolve this lengthy strike. City council will, most likely approve the deal tomorrow. Buses are expected to start rolling soon after with priority given to the Transitway (bus only roads) buses. OC Transpo has many drivers but few serviceable buses presently. Express buses are to be added later with full service expected in perhaps a month. (Many Thanks Farfando for your title idea!)

Here's the scene from 96th and B'way -- * backed up. *

Seniors are certainly affected by Ottawa's recent bus strike and many are obliged to either re-schedule Doctor appointments or take a taxi - if they can afford one. Many of these folks had to either walk or try to organize a ride during Ottawa's recent 51-day-long OC Transpo bus strike. This young man was recording a sound interview here with this good lady, presumably for CBC radio whose studios are only blocks from here and well within walking distance. There were also several TV camera crews here, as well at this bus strike protest. "Bring the buses back!"

Another view of a barricaded entrance to the 51st Street Station on the Lexington Avenue Line. A commuter looks down towards the sealed entrance, perhaps stunned that the illegal strike is actually occurring.

The home office. I just wish the heat worked a little better...

To wait for the west bound LIRR train. Here's hoping the LIRR has their act together for the commuter's heading home tonight.

...second day of the transit strike, 96th and Broadway.

Iconic police bike-lock hack. Although I suspect a fair percentage of bad guys know how to open handcuffs. But maybe not too many people would risk stealing a police vehicle.

Brilliant johnnie walker ad in today's times.

This is where I normally disembark on my commute to work. Ordinarily this part of Grand Central Station is hella-crowded, particularly during rush hour; but today there is no access.

EXCLUSIVE! On a Wednesday morning, used Metrocards sit forlornly on the floor of an abandoned subway station, with no one to sweep them up. Normally, during this time of day, the station would be bustling with activity.


How I got in here: the gate at one of the entrances to the 59th Street Station was open, so I went inside and was able to snap several photos before one of New York's finest asked me what I was doing. "Taking pictures," I replied with a grin. "You can't be in here, it's closed!" he responded. But my mission was accomplished, so I told him to have a nice day and headed back upstairs to the street.


Oh, and if you're wondering what the white placards in the window of the booth say . . .

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