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Bicing is the name of a 'community bicycle program' in Barcelona inaugurated in March 2007, similar to the Vélô service in Toulouse, Vélo'v in Lyon and Vélib' in Paris, and apparently uses the same system and bicycles with Stockholm City Bikes. Its purpose is to cover the small and medium daily routes within the city in a climate friendly way, almost without pollution (especially the emission of finest particulate matter), roadway noise, traffic congestion and to reclaim the urban streets with non-polluting vehicles.

A Bicing station

Contents

Operation

Area of a Bicing station.

The city council and Clear Channel manage and maintain the system. To use it one must acquire a yearly membership. Currently the network consists of more than 400 stations to lend and return the more than 3000 bicycles distributed throughout the system. The stations are situated through most othe flat areas of the 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. 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.

The Bicing user card, showing the logo.

To rent 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 0.50 € each. Use of a bicycle for more than 2 hours at a time is discouraged with a penalty rate of 3 € 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. Nevertheless users are encouraged to swipe the card to receive a system message that the returned bike has been correctly recognized as the small red light sometimes give erroneous signals.

Specialised vans are used to redistribute Bicing bicycles between the stations should it be required to even out usage patterns. However, as of November 2007, the number and frequency of vans is not able to keep up during the peak hours, making it very difficult to find a spot at which to return the bike.

Subscription

To use the system you must become a member. Subscription to the system is possible through the Bicing website (www.bicing.com), or through visiting the service office. The provision of a credit card number is necessary. It takes ten days to receive your card.

The Bicing member cards are only sent to addresses in Catalonia in an attempt to prevent tourists from using the system[1]. This limitation was imposed upon the City Council by pre-existing local bike hire companies (grouped under Bicitours) that feared what they called illicit competition from the Bicing system. Bicitours and City Council agreed as well in enforcing a user block to change bikes of ten minutes (that is, when docking a bike, the user is blocked for ten minutes before being able to leave with another bike). As a result tourists are barred from using what is officially denominated a "public transport system" - a bit like barring touirsts from using the metro or buses.

The smart bike

A Bicing bicycle.

The bike is specially designed to prevent theft of parts, or of the whole bike, as well as to prevent vandalism. It is also designed to be easily recognised.

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Theft and vandalism

Common user complaints include missing ringbells, cut brakes, and poor maintenance. Bikes have sometimes been stolen, even sawing the anchors that fix bikes on the stands, and found repainted.

The stations

A Bicing station.

The spaces for the parking stations have mostly been freed from car or motor-cycle parking spaces, with a small percentage of stations being placed on large pedestrian areas.

Financing of System

The system is paid for mostly by local car drivers with an effective on street parking control distributed throughout a large part of the densely populated inner-city. This money is then used to pay 2.23 million € annually to the system operator for a period of ten years. The yearly user fee is 30 €, which makes it the city's cheapest public transport service. [2]

Usage statistics

The sharply increased rate after 2 hours of continued use ensures each individual bike is used between 10 and 15 times a day by different people. More than 95% of the rides are shorter than 30 minutes. When a bicycle is returned it is necessary to wait 10 minutes before taking another one, again for free. Although there are over 90,000 registered users as of September 2007 only 1/3 of them are using the system on a regular basis. So far the network extends through Ciutat Vella, Eixample and some parts of Sant Martí and Gràcia. As of November 2007 the system had been used more than 2,750,000 times, representing 8,000,000 km of travel.

Planned future expansion

Barcelona bike program 3.JPG

As the bike sharing system was received by the inhabitants with great enthusiasm, it is currently expanded to other parts of the city and equipped with additional stations within the area already covered. So by the end of the year it’s planned to offer 3000 bicycles at 200 stations and by spring 2008 quadrupling to 6000 bikes at 400 stations to cover approximately 70% of the city area, except areas with slopes of more than 4% and the hilly area of Montjuic and Tibidabo. Several neighboring cities have asked to extend the service to their city as well and studies are underway on how to implement this for the flatter part of the wider metropolitan area. [3]

Name

The name is derived from bici short Catalan form for bicycle and the Airport code for Barcelona which is BCN. As well the English continuous ending of -ing is used for other means of transport in Spanish like footing (Anglicism used for jogging), parking (car park), camping (campsite) and vueling, which is a Catalan airline. Due to the hybrid nature of this Spanglish neologism, few of Bicing's English-speaking users can agree on how to pronounce it.

See also

Sources

  1. ^ http://www.elperiodico.com/default.asp?idpublicacio_PK=46&idioma=CAS&idnoticia_PK=430857&idseccio_PK=1022
  2. ^ http://www.bicing.com/servicio/tarifas/tarifas.php?TU5fSU5GT1JNQUNJT05fVEFSSUZBUw%3D%3D&NA%3D%3D the weekly ticket is not offered anymore for the above mentioned legal reasons.
  3. ^ El Bicing unirà les ciutats de l’àrea metropolitana - 20minutos.es

External links


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