As part of the mayor’s plan to reduce traffic and congestion, starting July 15th, the city of Paris is commencing with a program called Vélib’ where you can borrow one of their 20,000 low-cost bicycles. The city has installed lots of bike lanes in anticipation, although pedestrians (and dogs) make such frequent use of them that bicyclists usually have a bit of tricky maneuvering to do.
Still, for just €29 for annual membership, you can grab a bike from any of the hundreds of stations scattered around Paris (there’s one every 300 meters apart in the city) and ride it free for 30 minutes. After that, it’s 1euro; for the next half-hour, €2 for the second half-hour, and €4 for the next half-hour. They’re not too keen on folks holding onto the bikes for so long; the idea being to hop on a bike to make an errand then drop it off.
UPDATE: They are now allowing people to sign up and rent bikes via their website, so those who don’t have the microchip can apply. Click on the “English” flag on the website (below) and follow the instructions.
More info can be found here (in French and English).