October 19, 2007
Paris en greve! or Let’s strike for the long weekend…
Transportation workers began an “unlimited” strike in Paris yesterday (Thursday, Oct. 18). I’m not really sure what their demands are because, as most of you know, I live in my own bubble and ignore the news. What I do know: they are not happy. And they are on strike.
Prior to the strike, there was a lot of rumbling around Paris about how long it would last, with reminiscence of the strike of 1995, which lasted three weeks in December. People rode the bikes, walked, got to work however they could, with employers telling them to just come when they could. Popular support for the strike seemed to be low, particularly because it would inconvenience just about every last Parisien.
So, what happened? Well, yesterday (Thursday), Allen worked from home. Only the metro line 14 was running normally because it is a fully automated line. By late last night, two of the lines had 1 in 3 trains and 1 in 6 trains running respectively. Buses and RER service were at a halt.
I walked to my English lesson yesterday, as I always do, so the strike did not disrupt my day. I didn’t see a single bus while I was out, though I did see some taxis. I’m not sure if the taxis were involved or not. I was interested to see the sheer number of people on bicycles. I’m certain that Velib, a bike sharing program recently instituted in Paris, had their biggest day yet! (Velib has bicycles stationed all over the city, and users go up to an automated rental meter (like the Pay-to-Park meters in Arlington and DC) and check out a bike. They pay based on the length they have the bike out, and you can return it anywhere else in the city that has the Velib stations.) Every Velib station I passed either had no bikes or had a few lucky people checking out the last bikes available. I was also interested to see many people rollerblading or riding scooters. (Yes, grown men and women scooting around!)
After English lessons, with the parents only being a few minutes late because of the strike (good for them – one of them actually found a bus that was running), I walked back home amidst the bikes, inconvenienced tourists, scooters, and rollerbladers. I noticed a few stores that had preemptively closed for the day because of the strike.
Today (Friday), Allen had to go to work because his team had an audit planned for the day. When he was plotting his course last night, only a few metro lines were running (and not his usual RER train). It looked like he would have to take the line 14 as far as he could go and then walk over 3 miles. (And of course the same in reverse after work.) Fortunately, when he rose early this morning the line 8 was running (though it only had 1 in 3 or 4 trains coming), and despite that it was sure to be crowded and delayed, this metro goes to within half a mile of his office. He has yet to return home and update me on the horrors. (I hate a crowded metro ever since I almost passed out on one once.) This is Lauren, from Armchair News, signing off on the Paris strike!