The TH Interview: Bicing, Barcelona's Bike Sharing System (Part 2: the Users)
image by Petz Scholtus
This is Part 2 of our interview series about Barcelona’s bike sharing system Bicing. You can read the first interview with Mayra Nieto from the Barcelona City Council here. To find out what Bicing users thought of their relatively new public transport system, we went into the streets and asked them. With 194 stations and over 100.000 users it wasn’t difficult to fget hold of them.TH: What do you think of Bicing? Is it working well?
Most users were really positive about the system in general.
Anna O F: I am a new user to Bicing and I think it´s fabulous, works well, really effective and a great alternative to metro or bus, especially to get around town from A to B. I think it is working really well. I do not use Bicing to get into the centre in the mornings or leave the centre in the evening, so there are always bicycles in the stations when I go to use one. It works really well for me.
Gustavo P: In general, yes! In the summer there are more problems than now in winter due to less people wanting to cycle in cold or wet weather. Sometimes for example you receive a broken bike or the station is out of service.
Oriol P: On the limited time I've been using Bicing, I felt very satisfied with the convenience it provides; easy and fun to use, and ready available all over the city!
Sergio C: I think it is great! It works pretty well and is smartly designed. It had an explosive beginning and there were some problems due to the unexpected demand, but they mainly solved them by increasing the number of stations and bikes.
image by G. Perez
TH: Did/Do you also own a bike?
Almost half of the people we interviewed also own their own bicycle.
TH: When do you decide to use Bicing instead of your own bike?
Anna O F: I use my own bike, which I use for longer journeys or leisurely cycles; generally speaking, I use the Bicing service as an alternative to public transport or a way to get from one place to the next in the centre. If I am planning a trip into the centre and it´s a busy time I will bring my own bike, thinking that there will not be Bicing bikes available.
Gustavo P: Sometimes for fear of getting my own bike stolen I prefer using Bicing.
Sergio C: I do. I mainly keep using my own bike but at least twice a week I use Bicing when I just want to cycle one way. For example, early in the morning if it’s cold or rainy, I choose the metro but then at midday I ride back home using Bicing.
TH: What would encourage you to use your own bike more?
For most people, safe parking spaces to avoid the bike from being stolen, and safer bike lanes were the main persuaders to use their own bicycle.
Gustavo P: If bikes wouldn’t get stolen so easily or if I had a lift and the space at home to store my bike.
Oriol P: When requiring to bike all day long, instead of using the service just for specific & short rides, I would prefer my own bike.
Ricardo F: More bike parkings, more security for my bike. Taking it upstairs (home, office, etc) everyday is a nightmare…
Sergio C: Late at night when you go out, you don’t want to worry about where to park your bike safely because there’s a lot of bike crime in Barcelona. So safer parking would be encouraging.
TH: A yearly subscription of Bicing costs 24€, after which the first half hour is free and every other half hour costs 30 cents. Do you think the price is fair?
Most people were more than happy with the current pricing.
Anna O F: Yes, I think it´s a great price, it´s low enough to encourage lots of people to have the card "just in case" and it´s so easy to get around on a bike in Barcelona that people end up using it more than they thought they would initially!
Gustavo P: I think it’s a fair price, especially if you compare it with other methods to get around town like metro or bus.
Oriol P: More than fair! For the price of a regular dinner, I can use a bike all year long! repair and parking hassle-free!
Sergio C: I think it is good deal. I know that this price doesn’t cover the total costs and that the system is mainly founded with the money from the city car park-o-meter system called ‘Area Verde’.
image by G. Perez
TH: What do you like about Bicing?
The red- and white-coloured bikes are much loved in Barcelona
Anna O F: I like the style of the bike, it is like being part of a kids’ gang, bringing back familiar childhood memories, all going around in Bicings. I also like the familiar, almost nod of "isn´t this deadly" between users on the street. Because it´s only available to residents of Barcelona it feels kind of exclusive, I´m not a tourist!
Gustavo P: That it functions well and that it is very useful for journeys that are too short by bus or metro or too long to walk.
Oriol P: It provides me with an alternative to public transport system which is more convenient for me. Individualism and fast transport, for a fair price.
Sergio C: The way it works! It’s only for city residents, it’s cheap, easy, well maintained, designed to be crime free and it made a lot of people use a green transport.
TH: What would you change?
The fact that sometimes certain stations are empty or full (so you can’t take out or return a bike) seems to be the biggest problem at he moment, especially during rush hour. Others ask for more safety.
Oriol P: The positioning of the lighting system. Frontal and rear lights are located on a lateral, missing the potential to be more exposed and therefore delivering more safety to the rider.
Ricardo F: More bikes! Develop a better management system; there are too many crashes in the system.
Sergio C: I can’t think of anything fundamental that would need to be changed to improve the system. Perhaps, a well-connected bike path network that shares the spirit of Bicing and ensures the security of its users would help.