Renting bikes is definitely one of the most successful PSSs (Product Service Systems- access over ownership) in Europe.
Lyon, Paris and London amongst others have already added the bike to their public transport systems. Still, when at the end of March the first Bicing stations appeared in Barcelona, most people here were a little sceptical; will they be used? Is it just another act for the upcoming elections? Will they put enough stations around the city for it to work? Will the bikes survive in a city where even pedals get stolen of your bike?
Well, two months later EVERYBODY is talking about the Bicing and most importantly driving one! It works. With 1500 bicycles and 100 stations, connecting other public transport stations such as metro, train, buses and major car parks, the red and white bikes are to be seen all over town. 30.000 (!) people have subscribed online, in these first 2 months, which is what you have to do to be able to borrow a bike. The Bicing web site has all the information you need: the stations, how many bikes are available at each one, your bike renting history, maps with existing bike lanes and even the weather forecast. The annual subscription is €24 (or €6 before July 6th!) which includes your swipe card to unlock the bikes. The great thing is that the first 30 minutes are free and if you need the bike longer you pay €0,30 for each half an hour. The maximum time you can keep a bike is 2 hours.
We tired it out and had quite a few very comfortable & free rides. The Bicing bikes are fitted with a carrier, a bell and a light, are fully adjustable to all heights, apparently thief-proof and serviced regularly. Owning a bike in Barcelona can be an all too short experience. So the best thing about Bicing (apart from it being almost free) is that you don’t have to fiddle around with any locks but just slide the bike back into a parking slot and off you go. If you’re however planning a day trip by bike, the Bicing web site guides you to bike renting places around town, as their service is not for tourists but rather ‘an ideal complement to the traditional transport system of Barcelona. It’s purpose is to cover the small daily routes within the city centre.’ ::Bicing