This is my second post in a four part series of my cycling experiences through London, Barcelona, Amsterdam and Berlin. My goal was to ride a bicycle in every city for at least a day to get a feel for the cycling culture. Along the way I met with local cyclists and bloggers to find out what make cycling in their city so unique. Now, Barcelona!
I should start with a disclaimer. I am in love with Barcelona. It was by far and away my favorite of the cities I visited and cycled in on my trip. I arrived with some dreamy stereotypes in my head (ahem Vicky Cristina Barcelona – yeah I said it) and what I came away with was even more lovely than one Woody Allen film could depict! Ok so now that is out of the way, cycling culture!
I started my trip by meeting up with Txell from Barcelona Cycle Chic and Steven, a friend of hers from Pedal Messengers. They took me to rent a bicycle from My Beautiful Parking, a very cool bike shop in Barri Gotic (C/ Cervantes 5) where I got a lovely Fuji single speed for the next three days (15-35 Euros per day).
My new cycling friends and I went out for a night tour of the city where we mostly drank and ate for the next few hours…just my type of ride! We got to discussing the growing bike culture in Barcelona. The city installed Bicing, a bike share system in 2007 which helped launch bike culture in the city. Now Barcelona accounts for 10% of all Brompton sales!
You can see bike lanes and increasing numbers of cyclists around the city. Not to mention, Barcelona is the perfect size for commuting and has year round cycling weather. Because the culture is so new and fairly small, cyclists seem to unite together. I was hanging out with a a cycle chic blogger and a messenger and it wasn’t really a big deal. This is something you don’t find in NYC very often. It’a shame that we have our own pockets of bike groups here – commuters, messengers, racers, etc and very rarely do they intersect. One of the goals of my rides has been to bridge this divide!
I spent the next few days on my bicycle getting lost, cycling from one mountain to another and eventually to the beach. Everything in Barcelona is easily accessible and within 20-30min on a bicycle. Along the way I noticed that cars generally pay a little more attention to cyclists in BCN than in NYC and that cyclists here pretty much ride where they want. Bike theft is a problem just like any other city but people generally get away with using cable locks. To give you an example Steven locked his Cinelli frame to my Fuji and leaned it against a tree and we had no problems.
Barcelona is at a very exciting crossroads when it comes to bike culture! The newish bike culture makes for friendly cyclists and they ability to cycle in the narrowest of the old city roads…one of the coolest ways to get lost and see the city! But because the culture is new, look out for motorists who aren’t used to sharing the road.
I’m always going to recommend you spend a day on a bike in any city, but you should REALLY spend a day on a bike in Barcelona. It’s a smaller city with the perfect weather and great for cycling.
For more photos from the trip check out BrooklynbyBike on Flickr.