23 February 2009

The Bikes and Cyclists of Sevilla

My mate Martin has sent us this little cyclo-reportage from a visit to Sevilla, in southern Spain. He has previously posted about Japan.

Though not officially a bicycle built for two, the Sevici offers lots of opportunities for innovative riding configurations.

A late-winter visit to Seville in southern Spain surprised me, in all its bikealiciousness. You may know Seville for its gorgeous, gravity-defying bridge, the Puente del Alamillo, built for Expo '92 by Santiago Calatrava. But I'm guessing that we'll soon recognise the Andalucian capital as a great biking city as well.

A new tram line - the city's first - through the city centre, lots of pedestrianised streets and a Metro system (though its completion is delayed) all tell me that the city mothers and fathers have seen the bike light.

The Sevici system, a JCDecaux arrangement already introduced in Paris, Lyon etc has got underway and the inner city streets are full of young and somewhat older people making good use of their 30 minutes of free riding time. (The next hour costs €1 and each hour after that €2.) You'll find some 2500 Sevicis and 250 parking stations around the central city. Read more in Spanish or English at www.sevici.es

Just onto the Triana side of the Puente de Isabel II my photographer spotted these rather sturdy looking bike racks and a lovely red Orbea, a vintage Spanish brand.

Here at Plaza Nueva the Sevicis stand ready, in an orderly fashion opposite a row of bikes owned the old-fashioned way.

And here's hoping to a prompt return to Seville. Just to check the biking situation, of course!


Roxana/Artemidoros said...

As a Sevillian cyclist, I have to stress that, back in 2005, it was a 0-bike city. Now, it is booming. We do have even "little" bike jams in the mornings. It is sunny (20ºnow) and flat.
Even if cars are still kings here, they are losing some territory...

Lifestraveller said...

OMG...that's my city!!! :-D

Yes, I'm with Roxana here, a couple of years ago only the "hippiest" ones out there would be so brave to defy the horribly stressful and quite aggressive traffic in Sevilla to go with their bikes. But the transformation of the city in that sense by then has been astonishing...so much that I wouldn't have believed it before. The good thing about the public Sevici is that people can try how it is to go on bikes for normal life, they like it and eventually they buy their own bike. Therefore, it's not so weird anymore to see old people, mothers with their kids, even kind of "cargo bikes", and getting more stylish too (it's only me, or do more girls specially find more attractive guys on their bikes??)...

As for me, I don't go anywhere without my bike, and eventhough we are far from being a cycle city just as it is copenhagen, I'm sure we are going towards the right direction.

Btw...the new bike racks are just HORRIBLE. I hate them. And that red bike is still there, only now without the rear wheel. Surprising though, that the bike is still there when it's only lock to the rack through the wheel.

Mikael said...

wonderful to hear from you both! viva sevilla!

Anonymous said...

So sorry to hear about the red Orbea losing its rear wheel. At least it has been recorded on this blog, for posterity!

I love Lifestraveller's theory, that people first try out the Sevicis, like the idea of riding, then decide to buy their own wheels. It makes sense. A really positive trend!

So glad to hear from Roxana that it's growing so much... With the scorching Sevillian summers I'm sure that replacing a hot, noisy, polluting car with a warm and hopefully not-too-sweaty cyclist will make the place a bit more bearable. Because it's such a wonderful city, one DOES want to be there if at all possible!


/Martin, today's guest contributor

Anonymous said...

Lifestraveller said: "the new bike racks are just HORRIBLE. I hate them ..."
I am wondering, what is it about them that you hate? My town in California is considering installing similar racks ... is there something bad about them that we should know? We who bike here are mostly just happy to have ANY kind of secure parking made available, right now it's very hard to find something to lock a bike to, with a U lock. Post, trees, etc. are all too big. You have to use a cable lock, which local bike thieves are quick to cut.

JT said...

I hope other spanish cities will follow! And I wish they do it right. In my town (San Vicente, Alicante), they've put too few bike stations and the system is not very useful, discouraging people to use it.

By the way, I would ask the same as anonymous2:

What's wrong with the racks? OK, they're not very stylish, but I think they are one of the best options in a country where bikes get stolen so often. If well placed, you can fasten your bike at various points: both wheels, seat, frame. We're hoping to install them in Alicante, if possible without the ugly shield and made in stainless steel.


PS: Orbea isn't really a vintage brand, look at Orbea.com ;) But yes, that bike is quite "vintage". And not much beloved by its owner...

Roxana/Artemidoros said...

About the racks: in the last photograph, one can see the former racks, which were rounder and tied together to the floor.

However, I have heard that some people detached the first rack and could stole the bike (a woman whose bike was stolen that way told me).

Hence the new racks. They are sturdier. Hope they last.

lifestraveller said...

Well, there are two main reasons why I hate the new racks...yes, one is only because it's not very stylish, but also not very functional. That is, I have to lock my bike to it attaching it to the frame of the bike, and I only can do it at the chain level, therefore my bike when locked is passing the rack in one direction or the other. That implies that if it's very in the border of a car parking, the cars may hit them, and if it's on the other side, pedestrians may hit it too. Yes, I can lock it, but it's not space saver. That's my main complain.

Of course, if there isn't any other possibility, that's better than nothing. But still, I think they could think of a system that is not so big, that may save space and that bikes are safe enough.

Btw...I've just posted a pic with the state of the red bike now. i live in that street and I've made the pic this morning : http://lifestraveller.wordpress.com/2009/02/24/sevilla-en-primavera/

On the bad side....someone tried to stole my bike on Saturday night. I leave it in a patio which is closed at nights (not that night, that's for sure). Fortunately my U lock has demonstrated its effectiveness. But I'm a bit upset with it (and i don't have my bike at the moment...sniff)...

Ekdog said...

Hello from a car-free Californian who has been living and cycling in Seville for over twenty years. The bike paths and Sevici are great! I also like the bike racks, although they need to install some in more practical places like near supermarkets and shops. Another problem we have is the Spanish rail company, RENFE, which is trying to keep us cyclists off of the commuter train during rush hour.

Eric said...

The red Orbea is still there, but the seat is gone now!

Seville is great also because of the paths on both sides of the canal and the river. On the other side of the river there are dirt roads through the country side to the north west and south west and you don't really need a mountain bike for most of them. The N-630 to the north is popular with roadies but again you don't need a special bike just to get out of town.

Guille said...

I suggest you to see that beautiful video about a bike in Seville:

Mojarrison said...

In fact, Orbea is a quite old spanish brand, which began making guns, and in the last 90s is the only brand in the Giro and Tour, under few names (Orbea, Zeus...)
Actually is still a first level brand, using alluminium and carbon fiber on their bikes.
Pedals up!