Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Cycling the Barcelona way

I know, I know, holiday snaps are only interesting if they are your own. However, what if they featured a little cycling the Spanish way?

I fled Blighty and all the olympic furore (which I was enjoying very much!) and retreated to the warmth of France and Spain. After putting on my best french accent and eating plenty of Baguettes, I headed for some serious sunshine in Barcelona. It's always exciting observing how another city cycles, especially when you get the chance to hop on a bicycle yourself!

Here are some of the points I observed:

+ There are miles and miles of segregated cycle lanes taking you through the heart of the City and also along the glorious seafront.

+ Barcelona has it's on bike rental scheme, only they are not for tourists! This is the closest I could get to riding one. The 'Bicing' bikes are restricted for residents use only. Don't you think this is way cooler than a Boris Bike?

+ It's plain to see that Barcelona is in love with the bicycle. This isn't a bicycle shop, it's a boutique hotel! 

+ They even have cooler advanced stop lines for cyclists decorated with a pretty criss cross border. Only, the cycle symbols have helmets and all the real life cyclists don't.

+ There are many bicycle rental shops and bike tours for tourists around the city. Renting a bicycle in Barcelona is exceptionally cheap compared to England. I rented a bike for just €6 for the day, bargain!

+ Cyclists are not made to go around roundabouts and busy junctions, instead they have their own segregated lanes with traffic lights at every crossing. This is nice and safe but takes a hell of a lot longer than if you were cycling on the road with the cars!

Apart from the mighty heat, cycling in Barcelona is a pleasant, laid back experience. I didn't come across any bicycle ninjas or crazy commuters whilst on my travels, perhaps it's because its August and everything shuts down for the month, or maybe it's just too hot!

Here are a few other snaps from my holiday:
Have you ever cycled in Barcelona and what did you think?


johnrawlins said...

I live in Valencia - which is down the coast from Barcelona. Both cities have very similar infrastructures for bikes. These bike paths you mention that are built on the pavement are very popular with novice and nervous cyclists, but they do have several major drawbacks.

Firstly, a very common accident (and often fatal) is when cyclists continue along a bike path as it crosses a road. Regardless of whether cyclists have right-of-way or not, the result is that many motorists do not stop and many cyclists do not look. Bang.

The other serious consequence is that many cyclists get into the habit of riding on the pavement - even when there is no bike path. Spanish public opinion is swinging badly against cyclists on this point.

You are also right to point out that these bike paths are much, much slower than the roads - this is because users rarely enjoy the right-of-way and pedestrians (especially older pedestrians) tend to walk slowly along the paths in large groups.

Like most experienced cyclists in Spain, I never use these paths and see them as a danger for anyone going faster than five kilometres per hour.

Kate said...

I was in Barcelona too recently and hired a bike; I recognise some of those paths:-)
I got the impression that the advanced stop zones are for mopeds (motos) hence the helmets.

Anonymous said...

Amazing pics, very inspirational. I was in La Rochelle and cycle to Ile de Rè amazing experience for cyclist holidays as well. But Barcelona will be my next choice. Thanks for sharing!

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