L’Observateur : Transpo Edition

We rode our bikes to an aperitif party at our friend Laurent Zylberman’s place in the suburb of Montreuil last weekend. A woman from the neighborhood walked in, addressed Laurent in French, and said something about how there was no one from the neighborhood at the party. Laurent introduced us as Americans living in the 11th, and she responded, “Oh, from the other side of the peripherique, I hate that,” and promptly turned her back to us.

My first bicycle commute of the semester was a real wake-up call. Crossing République on J.P. Timbaud, I was sideswiped by a motard who tried to pass me on the right – like, between me and the curb. My foot got caught on his moped and he propelled me for about 15 feet before I broke loose. He offered some words in French and then I mocked his Frenchiness. About 15 minutes later on Rivoli near the Louvre, a taxi tried to make a right-hand turn through the bike lane and his front right wheel made contact with my boot as I slid by. If either of those things would have happened to me in Texas, I would probably be dead or at least maimed. But for some reason, around here, it just sort of passes.

They are re-painting the bike lanes on Boulevard Magenta. I hope it is an effort to make them more obvious, because that scene is ridiculous.

There are also some newly painted-on-the-pavement signs in some of the bus/taxi lanes that have a bike with huge red “X” through them. Not cool.


  1. Dear Chairman,
    I apologize about this rude comment thrown over at my party. As I mentionned to you this was a "rentrée" yearly party which we set up when, newcomers to this neighborhood 10 years ago, we felt the curiosity, necessity, happiness ... to meet the guys on the block elsewhere that at school's gate on a rush. Since then, new people moved in, the gentryfication of the city (some call it bobo-isation) has gone wild and many new neighbours came from Paris, the "wrong" side of the peripheriferique. They have to fight for the entry ticket to this island and a winning ticket is bashing their own past. I'm sure they'll get cured someday. I just hope this will happen before this ghetto get as snubish as Paris. Come again! Laurent

  2. Lo siento, mssr... you have a lovely ghetto indeed. This silly incident with madame makes for a funny story, and that is all – no offense taken. The socio-political subtleties of Paris and France still escape us, and we will gladly come again for a ride in the canoe.