05 August 2011

Living la Vida Liveable in Barcelona

BarcaLulu 04
I've embedded myself and my two children in the neighbourhood of Gracia, in Barcelona, for a couple of weeks. We're living local in this densely-populated 'hood and loving every minute of it. It is truly a prime example of a liveable neighbourhood, with priority for pedestrians and bicycles, 30 km/h zones and the whole Mediterranean feel. First matter of business was getting some bicycles and my good friends at Bike Gracia (formally BikeTech) have put a Bakfiets cargo bike at our disposal for the daily beach run - oh, and supermarket run and visiting friends runs.
BarcaKids 05-1
It's about 5 km to the beaches we prefer and virtually the entire route features bicycle lanes or cycle tracks. On the first couple of days the kids - and the beach gear - shared the cargo box. Even riding back to Gracia up the hill was pretty straightforward with the precious cargo. It was made a bit easier when we got Felix a bicycle of his own. He is a Danish nine-year old after all so he's well-practiced in riding bicycles in cities.

BarcaFelix 01
I tweeted as such yesterday, but Liveable City Requirement #1 really is being able to ride around the city with my nine-year old on safe, separated infrastructure.
BarcaKids 01
So far it's been back and forth to the beach each day but we do have other destinations on the agenda. And we'll need a break from the beach - it's bloody hard work body-surfing, building sandcastles, playing beach tennis and football, etc.
Wish I could nap on the way home, like Lulu-Sophia yesterday. But then my kids are used to napping in cargo bikes:
Beach Transport Beach Transport Rearranged

I've ridden a Bullitt in a number of cities - including New York and Tokyo - and the stares you get from passersby are always amazing. Even though Barcelona is really a bicycle-friendly city and the sight of a mum or dad with two kids on a bike with them is something you see all the time, the Bakfiets still raises eyebrows. People wave at us, smile at us, all through the city. Constanly. Lulu-Sophia thinks it's odd but we're working on getting her to wave back.