Saturday, September 17, 2011
Biking in Italy and Spain
A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to travel in Italy and in Spain (it was work-related). I was able to take the time to look around and get a feel for where I was. Some of the things that I saw were bicycling-related and I took pictures. As you might imagine, bicycling is different. In Florence: 1) Issues of salmoning, filtering, riding the sidewalks and so on were moot. All of these were happening and no one seemed to care. 2) Bicycles were utilitarian: no fancy components, with unrecognizable brands (or just bare downtubes) and a general disregard for upkeep. 3) People cycled to get get places and that was about it. I saw one roadie on the ring road but that was unusual. I did notice some cool stuff, like curb-stand parking:
The city has rentals, but the system seems a bit difficult to deal with; there's an attendant and hours are limited (this picture is in the morning, after 9am).
In Granada I saw very few bikes, but I did notice this one. It's a bit hard to see since I didn't get a chance to take a good pic, but this is a street with two moving lanes of traffic. There 's a cyclist right in between the two scooters. I'm just plain impressed by this woman (though note that in these towns traffic speed is generally low by our standards; cars move the slowest, scooters the fastest, with bikes somewhere in between).
In Seville on the other hand biking is an integral part of transportation. The city has an extensive automated bike rental scheme that provides bikes for personal transport. The system is geared towards quick turnover: the first 30 mins are free, the next hour is 1 EUR and after that it's 2 EUR. For 10 EUR a week you get a "membership" that allows you to use the bikes. The bikes are in generally good shape though I learned to check the brakes before checking one out. The only real problem I ran into was racks that were empty or completely full. But the turnover is rapid; within 5 minutes you could leave/get a bike. I love this system.