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Christina in Paris
I’m forbidden to ride for six weeks! So I’m learning all about non-cycling transportation options in Barcelona, and my bias for biking has never been higher.
Why? It’s faster and more convenient. It’s cheaper. It’s safer than a moto. It is also good for the environment, the body and the soul. Cycling gives me a sense of freedom and joy. (This pleasure is most intense going downhill…)
Where? Everywhere. Did you know there is a bicycle commuter ring road system? The pathway system in Barcelona is extensive, but not always continuous or direct. Riding in bike lanes, although encouraged, isn’t always the best option. Bicycles share the roads and the sidewalks with cars, motos and pedestrians. Legally, it’s prohibited to ride in the bus lane, or on narrow sidewalks. Prudence is advised. (See links below to official maps and rules.)
What? I often ride my race bike, even when commuting. My second choice would be a stylish, vintage fixie retrofitted with brakes. But, a folding bike is a tempting investment. To my taste, mountain bikes and Dutch style city bikes are just too big and so heavy. These bikes appear comfortable, but are they fun or sexy? Not unless you're on a mountain or you’re wearing high heels.
The public Bicing system appears to be a good option, although I would rather own a bike and buy a metro pass. As a tourist, access to the public system would be awesome, although bike rentals options are prevalent.
Security & Safety
Perhaps the biggest disadvantage to owning a bike is keeping it secure so it remains your possession. Unfortunately a quality lock might cost as much as your bike, and weigh a montón. Freedom has a price.
Safely is relative, never absolute. I don’t think blind adherence to use of the bike lanes improves safety. Awareness, consciousness and comfort on the bike increase the safety for the rider and others—more than bells, whistles, signals or signage ever will. Helmets are not currently required, but have their place. lothes should be comfortable, but not get caught in wheels. Wear fluorescent because it is fashionable, not because you’re concerned about visibility—heels will get you more attention in town! Brakes should work. And, speeds should be appropriate to the location, surface conditions and traffic congestion levels.
Believe me, but don’t follow me! I’m nursing a broken collarbone. Caution was with the wind, and I was going down a hill too fast! Moot point—I wasn’t riding in the city.
Information regarding bicycling in the city from the Ajuntament de Barcelona: click here
Map of Barcelona bike lanes: click here
Cicles Biela: www.ciclesbiela.com
Stylish! Neutra: www.facebook.com/neutramusica
Christina Smith is a designer, writer and athlete. Canadian by heritage; Mediterranean at heart. She completed post-graduate studies in both architecture and law, and is a self-educated expert in horticulture. She works as a freelance writer, legal and business researcher/consultant, and landscape, architectural, furniture & accessories designer. Her free time is spent nourishing her cycling addiction. Contact her here.