Barcelona is a very pedestrian and bike-friendly place, and how refreshing that is. It’s also a very large city, and like all big cities has problems with cars, parking, and traffic. To help solve part of these problems they’ve started a “borrow a bike” program.
The program is called “Bicing” and the basic idea is that loaner bikes are located all over the city. When you need wheels, you just pick one up, and return it to a rack at your destination. You pay an annual fee to use the system, and the first 30 minutes of use is free. There are 6000 bikes in the system, and after being here a few days, I can say that it’s a huge success. These cute little bikes are everywhere, and are constantly being picked up, and dropped off.
I absolutely love this program. It not only helps solve a problem, but it puts part of the responsibility for the solution on the people causing the problem. It motivates people to go outside and get some exercise. Also, it’s a process that feeds on itself, and gets better and better.
Most bike programs have demonstrated that when more bikes are on the road, drivers pay more attention, and there are fewer bike/car collisions. As a cyclist myself I can tell you this is a big deal. I’m always concerned about biking safely, and being wiped out by some pickup-driving bubba. Most cities in the US could learn a lot from Barcelona on this issue.