• Spain's news in English
 

Is Madrid's electric bike hire scheme dangerous?

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.

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
Spain royals 'no longer untouchable'
Photo: AFP

Spain royals 'no longer untouchable'

A new tell-all book that details what led to Spanish king Juan Carlos giving up the throne would never have been published just a few years ago in a Spain still deferential to the royal family, experts said. READ  

Ban on skyscraper plan for Atletico stadium
The VIcente Calderon stadium on the banks of the river in Madrid. Photo: Javier Soriano / AFP

Ban on skyscraper plan for Atletico stadium

A Spanish court has blocked plans to build 2,000 flats on the site of Atletico Madrid's Vicente Calderon stadium. READ  

Dancing deputy kicks up her heels at Seville fair
Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, who was filmed dancing at Seville's April Fair this week. Photo: AFP

Dancing deputy kicks up her heels at Seville fair

It seems no one can resist the fun of Seville's April fair, not even deputy prime minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, who was filmed getting her groove on this week. READ  

Is Spanish politics all about stripping off?
A Socialist town hall candidate has been ordered to take down campaign posters in which he appears naked. Photo: laSexta Noticias/Twitter

Is Spanish politics all about stripping off?

Yet another Spanish politician has bared all on a campaign poster, in a trend that is increasingly sweeping Spanish politics. READ  

Shocking footage of police beating deportee
Screen grab: Campaña CIEs / Youtube

Shocking footage of police beating deportee

A video filmed secretly by a passenger shows Spanish police beating up a man being deported against his will from Madrid to the Dominican Republic. READ  

Dolphins affected in Canary Islands oil spill
A Greenpeace environmentalist at the oil slick off Gran Canaria. Photo: Greenpeace / Pedro Armestre

Dolphins affected in Canary Islands oil spill

An oil slick has reached Canary Islands beaches from the Russian trawler Oleg Naydenov which sank off the Canary Islands earlier last week. READ  

Eurovision Song Contest
Face of the week: Edurne
Photo: Flickr/YourWayMagazine

Face of the week: Edurne

Could this be the year Spain wins Eurovision for only the third time since the contest began? Spain's fate rests with Edurne, the blonde bombshell who is hoping to enrapture Europe with her pop power ballad, Amanecer. READ  

A quarter of Spaniards believe Sun orbits Earth
Photo of a scientist: Shutterstock

A quarter of Spaniards believe Sun orbits Earth

A new study into Spaniards' scientific awareness has revealed they have some serious gaps in their knowledge. READ  

Spain rejects extradition of 'London Whale' trader
A man walks past JP Morgan Chase Building in New York. Andrew Burton / Getty Images N America / AFP

Spain rejects extradition of 'London Whale' trader

Spanish authorities have refused to extradite a former JPMorgan bank trader to the United States where he faces criminal charges in the massive "London Whale" fraud scandal. READ  

Pamplona sees red over 'Strictly Come Running'
Participants in Pamplona's famous running of the bulls. Photo: AFP.

Pamplona sees red over 'Strictly Come Running'

Ernest Hemingway would have turned in his grave over plans for a celebrity reality TV show based on Pamplona's famous San Fermin fiesta. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
King Juan Carlos led 'double-life' with lover
National
British expats fall victim to NHS clampdown
Travel
Benidorm: Cultural wonder of the world?
Features
Ten best UNESCO world heritage sites in Spain
Features
All the fun of the fair: Seville's Feria de Abril
Features
Happy book day! Top ten Spanish literary gifts
National
Off with her hair! Queen Letizia debuts new do
National
Barcelona bans tourists from famous market
Travel
Location tours start for 'Game of Thrones' fans
National
Top ten things to do in Castellón
First house sold by lottery ticket in Spain
National
Official: Francisco Franco was a dictator
National
Rockers pen 'We don't love Ryanair' ballad
National
Olives and vino at risk from climate change
National
Olé! Madonna orders tour bullfighting suits
National
Jihadists planned attacks in Spain: judge
Politics
Spain's 'Citizens' party fires up voters
Travel
'No pooing': village tells pilgrims in north Spain
National
Spain's newest export to France: Vultures
National
Spain gets first memorial stones to Nazi victims
National
What's on in Spain: April 2015
National
Town in shock at expat double murder
National
Brit family of four dead after Gibraltar stabbing
Can the 'nightmare' of a pilot downing a plane be prevented?
National
Priest arrested for exorcism on anorexic girl
National
Could this be Spain's own Maggie Thatcher?
National
Spain outstrips France and Italy in wine exports
National
What country is Catalonia most like?
International
Exposed: actress who faked Oscar glory
National
Brooms up! Quidditch casts its spell over Spain
Society
Ten phrases you'll only hear at work in Spain
International
Spanish crowned world's happiest language
National
Eight cool things the crisis did for Spain
Travel
Top Ten: Spain's best beaches for 2015
National
Euro property bargains up for grabs in Spain
What's On
Spain's craziest carnivals
National
Spanish town fights 'Fifty Shades' bondage hotel
International
Vinnie Jones teaches Spanish in hilarious ad
What's On
Ten golden rules for snagging a Spanish man
Property
House sales up for first year since crisis began
Gallery
The highs and lows of the Spanish property market
National
The five strangest things about Spaniards
International
What's keeping UK expats from voting?
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,295
jobs available