Monday, May 12, 2008

Paris Rollerbladers

Pari-Roller is the largest massed group of in-line skaters in the world. Every Friday night at 10 pm, thousands of skaters leave from the Montparnasse tower area for a three-hour joy ride through the streets of Paris. The route varies from week to week, but it is generally about 18-20 miles long (30 kilometers). Pari-Roller wannabees log into a web site to learn the route for any particular week. The only rule is that participants must be able to control their speed. Municipal policemen (on roller-blades) accompany the skaters and block off streets, as appropriate. By day, these special Paris rollerblade policemen patrol the streets, mostly issuing parking tickets.
How did this event, which sometimes attracts ten of thousands of skaters, get its start? Well, in 1995 there was a city strike by transportation workers, lasting three weeks. People still had to get to work, and flexing their creative muscle, they emptied the sports stores of their stocks of roller blades and took to the streets. After the strike was resolved, the city dwellers realized that they enjoyed their skates and didn’t want to give up this fun way to exercise and see the sights. Within a few weeks Boris Belohlavek founded what is now known as Pari-Roller, and die-hards (randoleurs) refer to this weekly outing as a Rando-Roller.
Now the concept has expanded, and daylight events take place on Sunday afternoons, departing at 2:30.
1. Ready to roll!
2. Friendly police on wheels
3. Video skating by Town Hall (Hotel de Ville)

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