The ABC of Viu Bicing in Barcelona- all you need to know in English
To Bicing or not to Bicing? Fascinated by the Spanish cycling ways but in a long-distance relationship with Spanish grammar? Just landed and trying to impress your travelling triathlon trio with bike facts? Local and Bicing-curious? Read on, this is a simple breakdown for everyone – with some insider comments for the extra-curious. Oh, and Bicing is a soft be-sing, not by-sing as you might be tempted to say in English or be-thing with a lisp. Now then, without further ado:
What is Bicing?
Bicing is a form of public transport in Barcelona which involves sharing bicycles. Here, the sturdy bikes are red and black with white mudguards. The Bicing stations are well- marked elongated black racks positioned on pavements or roads. Registered users may collect and drop off any bike from any of the 421 Bicing stations located all around the city.
How was Bicing created?
The Barcelona bicycle sharing system was inspired by similar initiatives in Europe and it was launched in 2007. Bicing was initially managed by the City Council of Barcelona and Clear Channel Spain, a communications company. After seven years, the well-known mobile phone brand Vodaphone Spain announced that they would become Bicing’s exclusive sponsor. The company invested over 1 milion euros to relabel the bicycles and the stations and in exchange for this brand promotion, Vodafone Spain collaborate with the City Council to improve the Bicing service for all users. The company helped offer a more fun and modern system, but before we explore it, let’s see who can use it first.
Who can use Bicing?
When the initiative was inaugurated ten years ago, bike rental shops in Barcelona pointed out that a public bike sharing system might create unfair competition when it came to tourists visiting the city. The City Council accepted this argument and imposed a number of regulations. So, you can only register for Bicing if you have either a Spanish identity card or N.I.E. which is a form of identification issued for foreigners living in Catalonia. Also, your Bicing welcome pack may only be sent to a Spanish address. As a result, Bicing has officially become a public transport system for locals. If this upset you a little, think about this: with over 100 000 registered users and over a milion monthly uses, some Bicing bikes may look, well, a little…tired. Keep in mind though- they have to be quite heavy and simple in order to be sturdy, not tempt thieves and last long. Over 40 percent of all bicycles used daily in Barcelona are Bicing. Wait…who takes care of so many bikes?
Who works for Bicing?
Bicing hires over 150 people who maintain, improve and transport the bicycles. Over the years, the design of the bikes has been changed multiple times to make sure they’re robust and ergonomic – take 2012 for example when all the brakes were upgraded. The scheme gives employment to many Barcelona bike mechanics who service over 280 Bicing bikes per day. And to ensure that there are bicycles available for users to pick up at every station, bikes can be collected from quieter stations and transported to hot spots – used over 450 times a day- by Bicing lorry drivers. The initiative also gave employment to web developers. Vodafone were serious about making Bicing modern and fun so they created the Bicing App.
For the app itself, as one reason – it lets you plan your routes, consult the availability of bikes in real time, mark your favourite stations and even play games. Join, ride, collect points and get rewards. The Bicing gadgets to pick from include bike accessories, backpacks, helmets or even tickets to the Barcelona Zoo for the most active riders. This fun, simple, practical and sustainable service was also created as a means to reduce pollution, noise and traffic congestion in Barcelona. That, and to promote the health of its citizens. The Catalan Bicing slogan means „Move around with Bicing and take care of yourself and Barcelona.” The scheme is designed to facilitate short journeys around the city – this is why the first 30 minutes of any trip are included in the annual subcription fee. If you live in Barcelona and this sounds like something you would consider, register on the Bicing website and you will receive your welcome pack within 10 days. And if you’re shaking your head…
Why not Bicing?
Being a service for local registered users, of course Bicing is not meant for everyone. In fact, trips are limited to two hours and if you exceed this restriction three times, your membership will be cancelled automatically. And trust us, even if you could, you would not want to squeeze in all of Barcelona into a two-hour bike ride, especially if you’re here for the first time. We think the City Council might just have been right to give Bicing to Barcelonians and let the tourists take their time. So how about starting from the heart of town and cycling at your own pace, seeing the things you want to see without any pre-arranged limits? Head to our Private Tour page. We’ll add our top-of-the-range, lightweight, urban fixie bike too. Why? Because if you’re still reading this, then you know you wouldn’t want this to feel like a commute. You want your Barcelona bike experience to be something unique.