“Bicycling is a big part of the future. It has to be. There’s something wrong with a society that drives a car to work out in a gym.”
– Bill Nye (The Science Guy)
All you 90’s kids out there know who the man I quoted above is – and worst of all, you know he’s right. I started biking at the tender age of 8, but I didn’t start biking to get around until my college years (back in Chicago). It was one of the best decisions I made then – biking, although dismissed as dangerous, is a good source of exercise and much faster and less of a hassle than waiting around for buses and shuttles to show up, only to wait for them to pass all of the stops before finally arriving at your stop. There’s an inherent sense of independence in biking, and you simply cannot ride a bike and feel unhappy. So many endorphins released!
I had to sell my bike before leaving Chicago and in Geneva all the bikes I came across were upwards of 500 Swiss francs (quite a bit above my budget when you think about what I had paid for my last bike – about $150). Luckily, some wonderful friends let me in on a little secret: cheap bikes exist in Geneva.
As far as I know, you can find cheap, second-hand but good quality bikes in two places:
1) The open market on Saturdays in Plainpalais (To the right of the Plainpalais stop on the 15 Tram)
Although the Plainpalais market may seem exclusively like an antique collector’s dream (or that of a hoarder), there are about 3 or 4 men that consistently show up with a small selection of bikes to sell – it’s really all about the luck of the draw but if you talk to them they’ll be on the lookout for what you want! I got mine there one very lucky, sunny Saturday. Bikes go for as little as 80 Swiss francs to as much as 250 Swiss francs (not that much considering the competition).
My greatest advice: Don’t settle – pick a bike that feels good and give it a test ride. F made the big mistake of buying a bike that he not only didn’t get to ride but that he had to get fixed (he was desperate). Don’t give in!
2) La Fourrière (Avenue du Bouchet 16)
This particular shop has a great selection of mountain bikes. I’m more of a vintage, relaxed bike type so this didn’t suit me but if that’s what you fancy then I suggest checking it out! The bikes sold at the market in Plainpalais are cheaper though, I would say. Start there and if you don’t find anything, work your way up to La Fourrière.
There are also lots of places to rent bikes for the day – one place comes to mind, located in front of Gare Cornavin (the main train station) – so take advantage of the good weather in Geneva while it lasts and give biking a shot! There’s nothing like the sun – and wind – in your face. Geneva is a really bike-friendly city too, with bike lanes just about everywhere. Watch out for the tram lines though – if you get your wheel stuck in one of those, falling is almost a sure thing. Although there are a lot of hilly spots, there are also ways to avoid them – get creative!
My commute to the office went from 30 minutes by bus and tram to about 7 minutes by bike! It’s worth it.
Summer is coming and, if you bike, at least you know your legs will be bikini ready.