04 May 2014 Life

A Paris cycling adventure

Wait for a bigger gap in traffic

You snooze, you lose. As the taxi exits the roundabout and trundles down Avenue Kléber, a motorbike growls past you, almost brushing your elbow, and glides into the spinning parade of vehicles. You’d better get a move on. A lineup of cars is gathering behind you, but you can’t see an opening.

An aggressive revving of engines makes you turn your head. The taxi driver behind you — there are so many taxis in this city! — is glaring at you and inching forward, impatiently.

You’ve got to do something. Pedaling cautiously ahead, you enter the roundabout but stick close to the curb. The Arc de Triomphe is like the eye of a whirlpool, and if you get sucked into the inner rings of traffic, you’re not sure you’ll ever emerge.

The edge of the roundabout isn’t as peaceful as you’d hoped, though. There are twelve streets converging on the Place Charles de Gaulle, and vehicles are entering an exiting each of them at a furious pace. Rounding on Avenue Marceau, a white delivery van zooms out from the circle of traffic and nearly topples you over. Hitting the brakes and swerving at the last minute, you avoid contact but find yourself stuck at an awkward 45-degree angle while vehicles bob and weave all around you.

There’s a bike rack on the sidewalk to your right. You’ve half a mind to park the bike and see the rest of Paris by foot; on the other hand, this is the biggest, busiest intersection in the whole city. Surely it won’t be this nerve-wracking everywhere you go… right?

Park the bike or Continue on towards the Champs-Élysées

Sam Nabi

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