Spain / Travel

I’m Loving Bike-Friendly Barcelona

Bikes

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.

Bicing_logo

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.

Happy Trails,
James

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like others in our Barcelona Series:

Making a Grand Entrance in Barcelona
Palace of Catalan Music: Distinctly Barcelona
Barcelona’s Motivational Chariot of Fire
Barcelona is Foodie Heaven
I’ll Take Barcelona Odds and Ends for 500 Alex!
Lasting Impressions: Barcelona

Bicing

26 thoughts on “I’m Loving Bike-Friendly Barcelona

    • Our hotel was in the center, and I was able to see the bike rack from our window. It was interesting to monitor the “ebb and flow” of bikes throughout the day. If Barcelona is any indication, if managed properly, this type of program would work in any large city. ~James

  1. love the bike scheme. We have one in London (called Boris Bikes after London’s mayor Boris Johnson) and I use them a lot when the weather permits… I saw the bikes in Barcelona, did not try them, but was told by some locals that there was problems especially in the mornings, as people in the higher parts would use them to go down into the centre early morning on their way to work (as it’s downhill) and leave them/park them in the dedicated areas in the centre, and nobody would use them going up-hill so to speak. So the local authority every morning have to use small trucks to move the many bikes from the centre back to other more up-hill areas….

    • Thanks for the comment. We saw a number of these programs on our last RTW, and Barcelona’s seemed the most successful. But maybe, we were at the bottom of the hill! However, we also saw trucks relocating bikes in Ljubljana, so I guess that’s something that has to be done from time to time. It’s very cool that you can use the bikes in London. Barcelona’s bikes were particularly popular on weekends, and I was happy to see that. It’s better to be drinking and riding a bike, than driving a car. ~James

  2. I love the red Barcelona bikes, but then I’m partial to this colour. 😀

    And yes, Ljubljana moves loan bikes – I think it is due to the traffic patterns; in the mornings to the outskirts of the town since people take them to go to work, in the evenings back to the centre so that the students having a drink in town can return back home. Of course they also must move bikes to make space – parking near the hospital seems to be especially busy.

    I’ve never had the need for a bike in Ljubljana – I can reach most destinations by foot, but I can definitely understand why borrowing a bike can be less of a hassle than using your own. Students always complain about their bikes being stolen – it’s one of the reasons my trusty old bike remains at my parent’s house.

    • Swytla, we found Ljubljana to be very walkable as well, but we had the luxury of time to walk and enjoy the city. Most commuters don’t have this luxury. The bike programs aren’t really mass transit, but they are public transit. And like all other transit programs, they don’t take care of themselves and need some management. I still love the program, and even if it doesn’t pay for itself, I think it’s a good idea. ~James

  3. This “borrow a bike” concept is fabulous. It hasn’t been done in Vancouver. But, what the city has done has made designated bike lines on the major through fares (Much like the ones in Holland). This does give bikers some measure of safety, but it is still a scary proposition riding a bike here. Virginia.

    • I agree Virginia. These programs are wonderful. And even though Vancouver doesn’t have a loaner program, bike lanes are great start and a huge benefit for cyclists. We live on a small island on the SE US coast, which is very bike, jogger, and walker friendly. There are dedicated paths that cover almost the entire island. And on a daily basis, I see folks out on their bikes that I know would not normally ride if the paths weren’t available. In addition, because there are so many riders on the island, the drivers are much more observant and careful. It’s totally win-win. ~James

      • James I think I would love this island you live on. We do live in the country but once we leave our road we are on busy roads. Fortunate it just a seven minute drive into our little Ladner village – and we are happy again. Virginia

    • I wasn’t aware of Copenhagen’s program, so I checked it out online. I read that 55% of the people in the country ride a bike each day. What an incredible statistic! So, I’m not surprised that they have a loaner program. Thanks for the info. BTW, riding a bike is very thrifty as well. ~James

      • Haha yes it is! My brother and I were able to tour Scandinavia this past summer and both Copenhagen and Stockholm have free public bike systems. The bike racks are on pretty much every other block, but it can be hard to find a bike because SO many people use them! And yes, Copenhagen attacks a lot of bikers and has several extensive multi-day bike trails.

  4. I love Bicing! I use it every single day at least once. The only issue is that sometimes it’s a bit too popular. I work on a street full of offices, and there are never any bikes in the afternoon. The street by the station is full of workers eyeing up potential Bicing users and trying to walk slightly faster than them.

    Apart from that, it’s great! Plus if you’re feeling lazy, you can just go one way on the bike and catch the metro home.

    • Hola Jessica. I suspected that you might have a comment on this post. I’m very pleased to hear from someone who actually uses one of these programs, and that it works so well. When we were in BCN it appeared successful, but we really couldn’t tell. Thanks for the info. Also, I love the image of two conservative office workers eyeing each other to see who will be first to the bike rack. ~James

  5. My dream is to visit Barcelona. I have travelled many countries in Europe, but not yet Barcelona. Love the bicycling sharing programs they have there. I rode a similar one in London UK and Paris. I find it very romantic. I will follow your blog and on pinterest too. Very pretty, clear pictures you have

    • Thanks for the comment Emilia, and for dropping by the blog. Barcelona is a wonderful destination, and should definitely be on your visit list. We lived in London, and unfortunately at the time, I didn’t have my bike with me. One of the reasons I love these “loaner” programs is that the presence of lots of distinctive bikes on the roads just help to raise awareness in the city. ~James

    • Thanks so much Emilia for reblogging our post. I love the concept of your blog, and your bike philosophy as well. I live on a very bike-friendly island, and it makes me happy to see so many people out on their bikes. We lived in Amsterdam (one of the most bike-friendly places in the world), and we saw on a daily basis how well bikes work as primary transport. However, this mentality doesn’t happen on its own, and blogs like yours are a great and fun way to raise awareness. Well done. ~James

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