The newest commercial and residential area in Lyon is CONFLUENCE.
The River is ever present as this was an old section of the city with docks and warehouses. As well as trams and bus services serving the area, there is a ferry service along the River Saone with stops at Confluence, Bellecour and St Paul/Hotel de Ville.
Confluence Stopis located north side of east end of the large harbour north of the Commercial building
Bellecour Stop: Quai Tilsitt (Pont Bonaparte)
Saint-Paul Stop: Quai de Bondy ( Pont de la Feuillée)
A ticket can be purchased as one boards the boat - €1.50 (one way).
Departs Confluence at 30 minutes past the hour between 1030 and 2030 seven days a week.
Arrives Bellcour 20 minutes later and St Paul 10 minutes after Bellecour.
Departure times St Paul on the hour 1000 to 2100 - Bellecour 10 minutes and 50 minutes past the hour.
It is a brand new service and the boat is well patronised. My only criticism is that the internal space was not air-conditioned on the day we used it. There is a small open-to-the-air area at the stern but that was totally occupied on the 40 º Centigrade boiling hot day we used it. The windows in the main cabin were sealed tight.
Vélo'v is a large-scale bicycle sharing system which is run by the JCDecaux company on behalf of the Grand Lyon Urban Community. The service began in 2005 and was an immediate success, which prompted the mayor and city council in Paris to institute a similar but even larger system two years later.
Vélo'v provides "solid, comfortable bikes, available for anyone to use, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week." At last count there were 343 Vélo'v stations in Lyon and the neighboring city of Villeurbanne, with over 3000 bicycles.
To use the bikes you first have to buy a one-day ticket for one Euro, a seven-day ticket for three Euros or one-year ticket for fifteen Euros. After that, you can use the bikes as often as you wish, and the first thirty minutes of each ride are free. If you keep a bike longer than half an hour you pay one Euro for the second half-hour and two Euros for each half-hour thereafter.
In other words, Vélo'v is a great bargain for short rides but would get very expensive it you kept the same bike for a longer period. But hardly anyone actually does that. Before the end of the first half hour you can simply dock your bike at any Vélo'v station, wait two minutes and take another one. (Or the same one again.) And again the first half hour is free.
All the Vélo'v stations accept "international bank cards", meaning cards that conform to the EMV norm. EMV stands for "Europay, MasterCard and Visa", which together have established international standards for cards using an "EMV chip". Unfortunately most American and Australian credit cards do not have EMV chips so they do not work at the Vélib' stations in Paris and presumably not at the Vélo'v stations in Lyon. My German credit card has an EMV chip so it worked fine when I bought my one-week ticket at the Vélo'v station "2025 Mercière / Ferrandière" near my hotel.
For more about how these bike sharing systems work, please have a look at the General Tips on my Paris page, where I have spelled it all out in considerable detail. The main differences are that Lyon does not give you an extra fifteen minutes for riding uphill, as Paris does, and Lyon does not (yet) offer the option of buying a short-term ticket online.
Update: As of May 2, 2012, Lyon does indeed offer the option of buying a short-term ticket on line, for one day or seven days. You can buy online up to fifteen days in advance and determine the exact day and time when your ticket will become valid. (Just as in Paris.)
And now the Vélo'v system in Lyon gives you an extra half hour of cycling time if you dock your bike at one of the uphill stations. (Double the credit you get in Paris.)
Second photo: Returning a Vélo'v bike at Place Voltaire (Vélo'v station "3018 - Créqui / Voltaire" in the third arrondissment of Lyon.)
Third photo: Riding a Vélo'v bike at Place Voltaire.
Fourth photo: Vélo'v users at Place Bellecour, rue de la République.
Fifth photo: Checking out bikes at the opera house, Vélo'v station 1002.
Tram linking the airport to Part-Dieu SNCF railway station.
Modern and fast, journey time around 20 minutes.
Convenient but expensive, a return ticket for two people (Dec 2011) a whopping 46 euros.
Check out their website for more info.
First the good news: the use of bicycles for urban transportation in Lyon has doubled in the past few years, both because of the Vélo'v bikes and because people have been encouraged to get their own bikes out of the cellar and start riding them again.
But now the bad news: the modal split for bicycle use is still only 2.5% of total trips within the city. As the Association Déplacements Citoyens (ADC) comments on the website lyon-velo.org/: "This is still extremely weak in comparison with other French cities (Strasbourg, Bordeaux, …) and five to ten times weaker than in certain European cities (in Switzerland, the Netherlands)" (my translation).
In 2009 the Grand Lyon Urban Community adopted a "soft travel plan" (plan de déplacements doux) which aims to double the modal split by 2014 (that would still be only 5%) and triple it by 2020 (still only 7.5%). As the ADC comments: "Lyon will remain far behind many other French and European cities, but our current weak position would make more ambitious goals seem unrealistic."
Just for comparison: Lyon's German partner city, Frankfurt am Main, has recently reached its interim goal of 15% bicycle use, with more on the way. Other cities such as Münster, Amsterdam and Copenhagen have 30% to 40% or even more, depending on what is counted as what.
I personally found Lyon a very pleasant city to cycle in, but I was there on a long holiday weekend when there was relatively little motor traffic and lots of people were out on bikes.
Second photo: Cycling on rue Paul Bert in the third arrondissement of Lyon.
Third photo: Cycling on rue de la Part-Dieu.
Fourth photo: Cycling at the Place des Terreaux.
Fifth photo: One reason for the popularity of bicycle sharing programs in Europe is that people who live in apartment buildings often have no convenient place to store a bike of their own. Here at least someone has found space for a bicycle on a balcony up on the fifth or sixth floor of a building near Place Voltaire. (Hopefully there is an elevator in the building.)
Velo'v is the greatest innovation in transport in recent years. The bright red bikes that you see around the city (can't miss them really) are absolutely everywhere, and you can use them for up to half an hour for free (just buy a week-long membership card for €1 - yes ONE EURO - or a year-long card for €10).
Everything else you need to know you can find by tapping on the screen at any of the Velo'v stations, or by visiting the Velo'v website below.
Over 2000 bicycles are available at 200 stations around Lyon and Villeurbanne. After aquiring a card from Le Grand Lyon, you can rent 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Especially helpful for those situations where you need a bike at 3 in the morning.
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