Mountain bike, single bike or tandem: on the streets of L'île d’Yeu, France, the parade of two-wheelers is permanent. For both summer vacationers and locals alike, this method of transportation has become indispensable.
“It’s practically a crime to use a car here,” reveals an employee at La Clinique du Vélo. At Port-Joinville, the sound of bike bells is almost ritualistic. Street lamp posts and parking lots for bikes are taken by storm, and renters line the streets. Mountain bikes and other bikes besiege the four corners of the archipelago.
People put their small children on the back of their bikes in small trailers, but from five years old and onward, children have their own two-wheelers. Certain people even transport their dogs and cats in tiny trailers attached to their bikes. “The locals and vacationers do not use any other method for getting around,” specifies a shopkeeper. “We live on a giant pebble and distances are, for the most part, quite short. It is the most practical method for getting around.”
“It eliminates cocktail hour”
For those on vacation, the bicycle only offers advantages. “We don’t pollute, we get exercise, and it eliminates cocktail hour,” jokes Marie-Amélie Porcher, a fan of the island for thirty-five years. For Victor Cambois and his friends, visiting from the Paris region for a week of camping, the verdict is the same. “In the beginning, we got around on foot, but we soon made the decision to rent bikes. They are really indispensable here. Plus the nature here is so beautiful - we would never have been able to see it properly by car.”
At La Roue Libre, they fix broken bikes. “We have almost too many clients,” smiles an employee. Frédéric André, the Manager, travels all over the island to help vacationers and locals who have broken down on the road. “They call us out for flat tires most of all,” he specifies. The company rents close to a hundred bikes per day during the high season, which runs from July 20th to August 15th.
Using this method, all of the sites of the island are accessible. In fact, certain spots can only be visited by bike or on foot, like the Vieux-Château and numerous beaches.
Despite its practicality, biking still comes with its fair share of surprises, and accidents are frequent. On the dock of Port-Joinville, an Icelandic woman recounts her misfortune. “My baguette fell to the ground. I wanted to save it and I panicked,” she admits, flustered. “It’s okay; I’m not hurt. But still, it’s pretty stupid to bang yourself up over a piece of bread,” she jokes.
Victims of theft and incivilities
At night, on the docks and streets by the water, theft and incivilities are not out of the ordinary. “There are lots of robberies near the port,” say the employees at La Clinique du Vélo. “Even individual homes become victims of this plague. Thieves will not hesitate to steal from garages and on the small streets of the island.” Bike seats and wheels are the first to go. “We ask our clients to attach their seats to the bike frame with locks so that they can’t be stolen. It is a very troublesome problem,” they complain.
In what ways is your city being proactive against bike theft?
Original article, originally published in French, here.
Credits: Images and data linked to sources.