Monday, February 11, 2008

Bicing in Barcelona

I was in Barcelona last week for the I-COM conference, and then for the weekend too.

One of the new things I noticed was the amazing proliferation of their 'Bicing' scheme. Bicing is a 'borrow a bike' scheme, as trialled and abandoned in many cities, but in Barcelona it seems to work very well.

The Bicing website (only in Spanish and Catalan) shows a now obligatory Google map of the many different spots to pick up and drop off the bikes, with a live count of how many available bikes there are in each spot.

One key difference between this and other schemes in other cities is that all users have a card and a pin, and are allocated a specific bike for the journey, so if the bikes go missing they know who to come after.

Wikipedia has a very good summary of the scheme:

"Currently the network consists of more than 200 stations to lend and return the more than 3000 bikes distributed throughout the system. The stations are situated through the inner-city with a distance of around 300 to 400 metres between each one, with many situated next to public transport stops to allow for intermodal use. The Metro Stations usually have signs pointing to the locations of nearest Bicing stations. The bikes can be lent from, and returned to, any station in the system, making it suitable for one way travel. Each station has between 15 and 30 parking slots to fix and lock the bicycle.

To lend a bike one simply swipes the contactless RFID-card at a service station to be personally identified by the system, which then unlocks a bike from the support frame. Bicycles can be used for the first 30 minutes with no extra cost, with subsequent half hour blocks (up to 2 hours) costing 0.30 Euros each. Use of a bicycle for more than 2 hours at a time is discouraged with a penalty rate of 3 Euros per hour, but also with the possibility of having your membership cancelled after a certain number of uses in excess of 2 hours. To return a bicycle one simply places the bike in a spare slot at a Bicing station, the bike is recognised automatically and is locked into place (as indicated by the small light at the slot turning red), so one does not need to swipe the RFID-card to return the bike."

Initially it was just for locals, who pay €30 per year to for the card needed to use the system, but now it is also available for tourists at €1 a week.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I'm a lover of the bicing in barcelona and I have set-up a system to help locate them. You can basically locate bikes and empty spaces via SMS. It is explained here:

So far it is in spanish and catalan only, but more languages will come soon.

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