Paris, city of love affairs, has been enjoying a romance of its own in recent years – with bicycles. The humble two-wheeler is perceived by many to be the answer to the capital’s traffic and pollution problems, and in 2007 the city council even instigated a public bicycle rental programme called Velib (from the French words velo and liberte, meaning ‘bicycle’ and ‘liberty’), so that 20,000 bikes are daily available at pick up/drop off stations all around the city.

The iconic grey Velib bikes have since become an instantly recognisable part of the Paris landscape, as has the sight of private bicycles chained to railings, propped up outside cafes and shops – or neglected and abandoned on the street. Monika Chodakowska captures these motionless wheels as ubiquitous protagonists of a modern Parisian portrait.

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