• Spain's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Is Madrid's electric bike hire scheme dangerous?

AFP/The Local · 23 Jun 2014, 15:36

Published: 23 Jun 2014 15:36 GMT+02:00

Madrid is seeking to match cities such as Barcelona, Paris and London by providing hundreds of bicycles for public hire -- with the added feature of electric motors to help ride up slopes.

"It is good. A bit heavy, but that's what you'd expect with an electric bike," said Miguel Angel Delgado, 49.

"When you take off at the traffic lights you notice that push" from the electric motor, he added.

Locals like the idea of the "BiciMad" project, taxi drivers hate it, while officials are proud Madrid has finally caught up with earlier adopters of urban bike-sharing.

"This is a cultural change that has to happen little by little. It is already a reality in many European cities," said Madrid's conservative Mayor Ana Botella after riding one of the bikes herself.

"Our city is for everyone. We all have to live together with respect between drivers, pedestrians and cyclists."

Fewer cars, less pollution 

Botella hoped the bikes would encourage people to drive their cars less and help cut pollution in the city.

She said electric bikes were chosen so more people would use them and potential riders would not be put off by central Madrid's many slopes.

Most agreed that the city will need time to get used to hundreds of bicycles in its busy, often narrow, streets, however.

"This project will have problems and there will be incidents, but they will be resolved through our efforts," said Miguel Vital, director of BonoPark, the company that operates the hire scheme.

Waiting for fares outside the city hall, taxi driver Juan Carlos Gordillo, 45, shook his head.

"This is going to create a lot problems for drivers. None of them are used to cyclists. It is going to be more dangerous," he said.

"But everyone will have to get used to it. It has been imposed on us, so we will have to adapt."

'Scary' cycling in Madrid 

Pascual Berrone of Madrid's IESE business school, author of a recent study on urban development, said Spaniards are keen to get on their bikes but reluctant to ride in Madrid for safety fears.

"There are places it is quite easy to ride a bike, but other areas where it is extremely dangerous. It is often scary to ride a bicycle in Madrid," he told AFP before the scheme's launch.

Botella said bicycle use in Madrid increased by 17 percent from 2012 to 2013. Madrid has just over 300 kilometres (185 miles) of cycle lanes and has promised 70 kilometres more.

Story continues below…

To respond to the growing demand, BiciMad offers 123 self-service stands for 1,560 electric bicycles around the centre of the city.

Riders will pay between one and four euros an hour to use the bikes, depending on whether they are annual subscribers or just occasional users.

In the leafy shade next to Madrid's Retiro park, Delgado, a keen cyclist, got back on his "BiciMad" mount.

"Madrid is a rather unusual city. Not many people cycle here," he said. "No one knows whether this is going to be a success or a failure."

Don't miss stories about Spain, join The Local on Facebook and Twitter.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.es)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Suspend EU funds for Spain says European Commission
European Commission vice president Jyrki Katainen. Photo: AFP

The EU should suspend structural funds to Spain and Portugal after they failed to rein in their debt, according to a letter from the European Commission seen by AFP.

Spain arrests Polish millionaire in arms bust
The gang sold more than 200,000 AK-47s, as well as missile launchers and tanks. Photo: AFP

Spanish police said Saturday they had arrested a Polish millionaire suspected of masterminding a ring that smuggled assault rifles and heavy weapons into South Sudan.

Video
Stag party bungee jump prank goes viral in Spain
Screen grab: Jaime Cuesta/YouTube

A group of friends made this stag think he was going bungee-jumping on his last night of freedom... but they had an entirely different plan in mind.

Spain pays €300m each year in pensions… to dead people
Photo: Paco Cameo / Flickr

Almost 30,000 Spaniards continue to receive a state pension despite the fact that they have died.

Catalan separatists overtake 'remainers' for the first time
People wave pro-independence Catalan flags. Photo: AFP

For the first time ever, the number of people in favour of an independent Catalonia has surpassed the number of those against.

Childless households are the new normal in Spain
More and more Spanish households are comprised of flatmates rather than families. Screen grab: YouTube

Spain is in the middle of a never-before-seen demographic shift.

Video
Zoo animals enjoy ice lollies to cool off in Spain's heatwave
A chimp slurps on frozen fruit as temperatures soar across Spain. Photo: Bioparc Valencia

Vegetable ice cream, fruit lollies and for the carnivores among them, generous helpings of frozen meat, this is how zoo animals across Spain have kept their cool this week.

Girl rescued after night spent adrift on surfboard off Spain
File photo of a girl with a surfboard. Photo: hjl/Flickr

The young woman could not beat the strong currents to make it back to shore.

Spain's new coach Lopetegui promises 'evolution'
Lopetegui during a press conference on Thursday. Photo: AFP

Newly named Spain coach Julen Lopetegui has already led Spain's youth teams to international success.

Gallery
10 super Spanish drinks everyone should try
Photo: Ignacio Palomo Duarte/Flickr

While we've all been tempted by the Spanish holiday classic of a chilled glass of sangria, Spain has much more to offer when it comes to tantalizing tipples. Here's The Local's guide to some of the best.

Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Travel
Barcelona bans Segways from tourist clogged waterfront
National
Police issue guidelines as Pokémon craze sweeps Spain
National
Another dodgy art restoration raises alarm in Spain
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
Watch: Man in wheelchair zooms past Barcelona traffic
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
Woof! How to find dog-friendly beaches in Spain
Travel
Tourist sparks bomb scare by locking suitcase to park bench
Technology
Five brilliant apps to help improve your Spanish
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
National
Top ten tricks to survive the Spanish summer
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Travel
Off the beaten track: 14 best kept travel secrets in Spain
International
Keep calm and wait and see: Advice for expats post-Brexit
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Features
Top 10 Spanish treats to keep you cool in summer
National
'I've had best time ever' insists American gored in bull run
Health
How to avoid heatstroke when Spain starts to sizzle
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
International
Champion of expat property rights in Spain awarded gong
National
Scorchio! Heat warnings issued across Spain
National
Brits demand dual citizenship for expats in Spain post Brexit
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Sport
Spanish matador gored to death in the ring
Lifestyle
Eleven types of men you might typically date in Spain
National
Spanish police rescue British teen trapped by dad in house for two years
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Features
Seven burning questions for British expats about Brexit
Technology
Six free apps to simplify your summer in Spain
Six important things we learnt from Spain's repeat elections
Politics
Rajoy claims right to form government after poll win
3,290
jobs available