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Barcelona on a bike

Barcelona is the perfect city to explore on a bike and, thanks to its idyllic climate that is refreshed by the sea breeze, you can enjoy cycling around the city at any time of the year.  A tourist arriving in Barcelona for the first time won't take long to notice the rows of red and white bicycles that are parked in their specially designed stations throughout the main streets of the city: this observant tourist will have just noticed what is known as the city's famous "bicing."

Moverse en bicicleta por Barcelona
Getting around Barcelona on a bicycle

Bicing: what it is and how it works

"Bicing" (the Spanish pronounce it exactly as it is written) is the bicycle rental service that has been set up by the city's Town Council.  Since it started in 2007, it has been extraordinarily popular with Barcelona's residents and now, after a few changes to the format, it is possible to use the red and white bikes to travel from one part of the city to another by leaving the bike at the "bicing" station that is closest to your intended destination.  Using them is very simple: You will need to scan the bicing card at the stand that is present at each station.  A green light will show the user which bike they should remove from its stand and they can pedal off for 30 minutes.  If this time is exceeded, there's no need to worry.  You will simply exit the standard rental rate and will need to pay a supplement of €0.74 for every half hour in excess of the standard time period.  

Electric bicycles

Naturally, not everyone is aware of the fact that Barcelona is not a particularly flat city - this is another of the features that make the Catalan capital unique and so attractive - precisely due to the fact that there are many streets that rise steeply as you get further away from the historic center of the city.  As a consequence of this, the majority of those who subscribe to the bicing service tend to use it for travelling from the neighborhoods that are further out, rather than in the city center and as they come down to the center, leaving the bicing stations in areas such as Gracia virtually empty and the stations around the the Barrio Gótico overly full.  A solution to this problem has been introduced quite recently by offering the service of electric bicycles which can be accessed after payment of an additional annual fee which is supplementary to the basic standard fee.  In any event, the organizational standards in the Catalan capital are extremely good.  Every day, dozens of council operators load up the bikes and take them from one area of Barcelona to another in order to ensure that the bikes that aren't being used are moved to the stations where there is the greatest demand. 

Carriles bici Barcelona
Bicing in Barcelona

More than just bicing: rent a bike in Barcelona

Apart from being an efficient and convenient service, Bicing would not be particularly suitable for tourists who are just visiting Barcelona for a short time.  But is it really impossible for tourists to cycle around Barcelona if they can't bring their bike from home?  Of course not!  On the contrary, we really do recommend trying the experience of renting a bike on the spot.  The options for renting a service on two wheels in Barcelona are numerous: our suggestion would be to to use a service in the city center or near where you are staying because when you have finished using the service, you would need to leave the bike in the same place from which you have rented it.  The cost of the service is usually €6.00 per day and the bikes for hire in the Catalan capital are always well maintained and fully operational.  In addition to this, Barcelona has a great network of cycle lanes with a system of traffic lights that are just slightly smaller than those that govern the 4 wheel modes of transport.  Thanks to the update of Google Maps in January 2016, it is now also possible to program your route in "bike mode" enabling you to follow the instructions from the navigation system in complete safety which includes guiding cyclists along the streets in the right direction on those that do not have a cycle lane.  A unique peculiarity of Barcelona which those who don't live here may not be aware of is that almost all the streets are one way!

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