Over the past two weeks I was in Italy and in Spain, for conferences. In addition to everything else, I tried to keep an eye out for things bicycle out of curiosity about how things were done elsewhere. Unsurprisingly things were different.
Some things that I noticed in Florence:
1) Issues of salmoning, filtering, riding the sidewalks and so on were moot. All of these were happening and non one seemed to care.
2) Bicycles were utilitarian: no fancy components, unrecognizable brands (or just bare downtubes) and a general disregard for upkeep.
3) People cycled to get around and that was about it,. I did see one roadie on the ring road but that was it.
Some things that I noticed in Granada:
1) Almost no bikes to speak of. This was maybe not entirely surprising: the town is pretty hilly and you'd probably have to be pretty dedicated to bike around all the time.
2) The bikes that I did see were mountain style with big mostly knobby tires.
3) On a trip to the Sierra Nevada (by car) we did run into a large ride puffing up a hill (roadies in lycra, nice bikes, the whole bit). I noticed maybe only a couple of bikes with skinny tires.
1) Tons of bikes but no roadie types. This is actually not very surprising. Many streets are cobbled or brick and really rough to ride on.
2) The city has a well-organized municipal bike rental system. It's actually amazingly simple: you pop in your atm card to buy a 10 EUR 'subscription' (which also puts a 150EUR hold on your account), get a ID number and set up a password and you're all set. Bikes are available at automated stands all around the city. You log-on, select a bike and you're off. The system is set up to short term use: your first 30 mins are free, the next hour is 1EUR, hereafter it's 2EUR/hr. Just perfect to hop on to get somewhere and drop it off at a stand. The bike are big and heavy but surprisingly easy to ride. My hotel was about 2km from the historic area and all I had to do is hop on and off to get there. There were problems: while the bikes were generally in good condition I discovered that it paid to first check the bike before taking it (brakes especially). The empty bikestand happens, and also the full bikestand (nowhere to park!). But turnover is fast; it seemed like something would show up (or leave) within 5 minutes. I ended up not worrying about it
1) Not many bikers to speak of, at least in the downtown area that I stuck to.
I noticed that in the urban center cars were the slowest, followed by bikes but both bested by the scooters. It made sense: cars are big and not all that maneuverable. Scooters move fast and generally ignore traffic, scooting between cars and so on. Bikes were slower but more adaptable: salmoning and sidewalks kept you moving and you could get through narrow spaces much easier.