Every Friday night and Sunday afternoon Parisians can take the streets and see their city on skates. And they do, by the thousands! Both mass rides, which are sponsored by different associations, started small and now are institutions of public street life in Paris.
In this video you hear from both, Tanao Terra, VP of Pari Roller, organizers of the Friday night skate and, Philippe Moulié, President of Rollers & Coquillages, sponsors of the Sunday afternoon Skate.
A little history: The Friday night skates were started by a small group of friends. After the transit strikes in 1995, which forced Parisians to find a new way to get around town, thousands of people began to show up on Friday evenings just to practice moving through the city on roller blades. The numbers inspired Pari Roller to form an official association working with Paris', and the world's, first roller blade national police unit.
Production note: I got to chase both mass rides shooting on a velib (public share bike which you will see more on soon) while Caroline Samponaro from Transportation Alternatives skated with a helmet camera.
And if it looks fun, there seems to be a ride right here in NYC.
Philippe Moulie: [00:08] We are doing rollerblade ride every Sunday since ten years now.
Philippe Moulie: [00:14] So we are doing that to make a little sport, to make it like a promenade, like a bollard in the streets of Paris
Tanao Terra: [00:21] So it’s nice because we have two ways to skates. On the Sunday to learn, to practice, and on a Friday to enjoy.
Speaker: [00:34] Very nice ride because we are, I think, 5,000 around that much. Today’s warmer, I think it attracted some [unintelligible 00:45] people who got scared by the rain these last two months.
Speaker: [00:48] I do it for the fun, for the excitement, for the speed and basically because it’s a community, you know. And it’s nice to be in a community.
Tanao Terra: [01:04] People want to move themselves without any pollution.
Philippe Moulie: [01:07] We can take the place of the cars. We have every Sunday around 2,000/4,000 people in the winter to 10,000 to 15,000 people in the summer.
Tanao Terra: [01:19] The route is always different. Can you imagine to do all the time, the same thing doing your hobbies, it’s boring. So our pleasure is just to move ourselves on the north of Paris, south of Paris, east of Paris.
Philippe Moulie: [01:33] We have a permit. We apply to a permit every week. First is coming the police and the police is blocking the road for us. And afterwards it’s all people, every people who have a yellow shirt, we teach them how to do it and they block the roads until the rollerblade parade is past. And afterwards it’s also the police who is reopening the roads.
Tanao Terra: [01:54] In 1995 during all the strike in Paris people really amazed, everybody need to move themselves so they tried bicycle, they tried skates, they tried skateboards, and we have a lot, a lot of people who came up during Friday evenings just to practice their skates and how to turn the skates for skating during the week. And policeman came to see us and say to us, it’s not exactly dangerous, but you must take care of about all these people. So I think a bit of advice I can give to you is to make an organisation to just have legal things between policeman and us. And the organisation was born in 1998 and actually we celebrate ten years of organisation.
Elizabeth Press: [02:49] It’s a lot like critical mass used to be in New York City, the police and the skaters were working together, the roads were shut down so that the event could pass through and everyone was having a really good time.
[02:59] You can visit Paris and do what you want to do just by skating.