Showing posts with label catalonia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label catalonia. Show all posts

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.

07 July 2011

Saint Joan Despí, Catalonia - Bicycle Friendly

Saint Joan Despí Cycle Chic Tour_9
Often all the talk is of larger cities when discussing advances in bicycle culture and infrastructure. Last month, at the Cycle Chic Bloggers Conference in Barcelona, we were all invited to a town 10 km from Barcelona called Saint Joan Despí.

The Mayor of the town was keen to have us visit and Txell, from Barcelona Cycle Chic (and an ocean of other bicycle advocacy orgs) arranged for us to do so.

Barcelona Train Station Barcelona Train
Getting there was the first task and we decided to take the train. The first thought from this orderly Nordic mind was - can 22 people with bicycles get on one train?! Our Barcelonan friends just shrugged. Sure, why not? There is, of course, loads of room for bicycles on the train and even though we filled both compartments - and then some - nobody minded and everything went smoothly.

Saint Joan Despí Architecture 003
We were greeted by the mayor at the train station in Saint Joan Despí, as well as a group of city officials and police. The bicycle tour of the city included detailed guided tours of the two masterpieces of the architect Josep Maria Jujol. Brilliant. Perfect for a Cycle Chic conference. Not all bike geek stuff but art and culture as well.

Saint Joan Despí Cycle Chic Tour Saint Joan Despí Police Escort
We toured the city and sampled the bicycle infrastructure, led by a police escort of three cops on bicycles. Whenever we stopped somewhere we were provided with the most secure bicycle parking in Spain:
Saint Joan Secure Bike Parking
The police guarded our bikes for us. Nice.

Saint Joan Despí FC Barcelona 001 Saint Joan Despí FC Barcelona 005
Another non-bicycle related highlight was visiting FC Barcelona's massive training centre in the town. They play at Nou Camp, 4 km away, but this is where Barca trains each and every day. If just being there made me giggle, learning that there is no public access to the centre - it's guarded like a military installation - sent me over the moon. I kissed the grass accordingly and picked some of it to take home for my son - who keeps it in a metal box and places one blade in his goalkeeper gloves before each match.

Saint Joan Despí Bike Lanes
We toured the bike lanes - and there were many - and the Mayor was pleased to show us an example of the city's investment in bike lockers.

Saint Joan Despí Bici Box
This is a town of 30,000 people and there are 14 bike lockers - each with space for either seven or fourteen bicycles.
Saint Joan Despí Bici Box_1 Saint Joan Despí Bici Box_2
Joni from Dutch in Dublin blog and owner of Bear Bicycles watches as the Mayor demonstrates. Being a Cycle Chic Bloggers Conference, we were all well-dressed. But that's, of course, not possible. Riding a bicycle in the heat and on hills. Maybe we were a mirage.
The bike locker system is a subscription system with works with a chip card. Very effective. I think it's about €30 a year. Imagine... some large cities don't even have that many bike lockers.

Saint Joan Despí Cycle Chic Tour_4
The tour of the city ended up at the main library where we were treated to some lovely food and live music.

The Mayor recieved a Cycle Chic t-shirt. In the photo (taken by the everpresent camera of the Hungarian Cycle Chic gang), Esther from the Catalonia Bicycle Club - BACC - just realised she had to translate it. The Mayor is cool and he accepted the gift - even after having it translated... he was still talking to me afterwards, so that was a good sign.

A brilliant trip to Saint Joan Despí. Thanks to the Mayor and his staff for making it so memorable for the Cycle Chic blogger crew. Bicycles, infrastructure, facilities, music, art, architecture, football. Couldn't have been better. And thanks, too, to BACC for all their help and great camaraderie.

Saint Joan Despí Cycle Chic Tour Tram
The time came to head back to Barcelona for a night out. We opted for the tram and, once again, I was amazed that nobody cared that we took up a bit more space than normal. Taking bicycles on the trains and the trams is, also, free. A ticket conductor came on board at one point but nothing about the bicycles was mentioned. He just deftly stepped around them without batting an eyelash.

I could show you photos of how the night developed, but in some countries they somethinng called NSFW.

Bicycle culture in Catalonia is alive and well.

23 June 2011

Barcelona and Bicycle Culture

Barcelona Traffic Light
So leaving Montreal for a moment, then you have Barcelona. A city that puts a thousand other cities to shame for how they have managed to plant fertile bicycle culture seeds and are tending a lush and growing garden. Traffic lights for bicycles are nothing new, but I love these shiny, new versions in the city.
Barcelona Cycle Chic June 11 (34)
Every city is unique in their layout, needs and solutions. Barcelona has many incredibly narrow streets but they also have grand boulevards like the one above, Diagonal. Side street, sidewalk, bike lane, main boulevard and then repeat on the far side.

Barcelona Cycle Chic June 11 (32)
The bicycle infrastructure in the city is far from perfect, far from Best Practice, but my god it is well-used by the city's Citizen Cyclists. You'll see a rush hour for bicycles in Barcelona that would be considered an alien sight in most cities in the Anglo-world.
Bicilona Txell 005
Those pesky on-street bi-directional lanes are in place on many streets and while they are far from optimal, they are really used and send positive symbolism. Most of the bicycle users in the city are regular citizens who aren't out to pump up their testosterone levels so the pace is civilised. What's more, riding around the city you really get the feeling that the motorists are adapting well to seeing so many bicycles on the streets.
Barcelonan Infrastructure_2
On this street, and many others, these blocks are used to separate the bike lanes from the street and prevent cars from driving in them. My local friends say that especially in the morning there are delivery trucks parked in the lanes on commercial streets but I never saw one car in a bike lane.
Barcelona Red on Red 2
Barcelona has painted lanes across intersections, like many cities in the world these days.
Barcelona Cycle Chic June 11 (1)

Barcelona Train Barcelona Train Station
Combining bicycles with trains is also incredibly simple. The crew from the Cycle Chic Bloggers Conference headed by train from Plaza Catalunya to the small city of Saint Joan Despí, about 10 km away. My first question was whether so many bicycles were allowed on the train. My Barcelonan friends just shrugged. Sure. Why not? We didn't even need a ticket for the bicycles. We ended being about 20 bikes in two cars on the train for the trip. Brilliant.
Saint Joan Despí Cycle Chic Tour Tram
On the trip back from Saint Joan Despí we took the tram to Barcelona. Again, all of the bicycles fit on board, no ticket was required and nobody minded that we took up a bit more space than normal. Not even the conductor who came on board to check tickets.

Barcelona Cycle Chic June 11 (13)
And what could be better than seeing a cargo bike selling fruit by Port Vell?! And a Christiania Bike, no less!

09 March 2011

The Bicing Bike Share Story in Barcelona

Filmmaker and bicycle advocate Mike Rubbo continues his series on bike share programmes with this film about the success of the Bicing programme in Barcelona.

Here is our collection of Bicing shots in Barcelona on Flickr.

08 October 2010

Cycle Touring Film Festival

Quintessential Denmarkishness
I'm off to Catalunya this weekend, to be a jury member at the Cycle Touring Film Festival being held in conjunction with the Cycle & Walking Tourism Conference in Palafrugell & Begur on the Costa Brava.

Bornholm Bicycle Ferry
While most of my work deals with increasing bicycle traffic in cities through infrastructure and positive marketing, I have been in the loop about cycle tourism on many of the visits I've made to other cities and regions. It's an interesting area of growth. Some countries are investing heavily in cycle tourism and Germany is the grand old man in the industry. Czech Republic and Hungary, too, are focusing on getting more cycle tourists to visit their regions.

I'm looking forward to networking about this growth area.
Denmark - The Country for your Holiday
Denmark has a long tradition as a cycle touring destination, as the poster above attests. It dates from the late 1940's and shows how Denmark was keen on attracting the British - then the world's most enthusiastic cycle tourists - to this country.

At another conference in Catalunya last April I had the pleasure of meeting a Dane - Jens-Erik Larsen - who was responsible for the idea of creating the world's first national cycle route network. He now works on the development of the impressive EuroVelo route system. Read more about that in this earlier post.

As for me, I'll be on the beach, in the cinema and attending a Cycle Chic party.

09 July 2010

Moving House by Bicycle in Barcelona

When I was at the 3rd Bicycle Congress in Lleida, Catalonia a couple of months back, my friend Jordi told me about how he moved flats in Barcelona using bicycles - and a group of friends. He's now sent me the film about the experience and it's quite cool.

They went back and forth across half of Barcelona and were quite knackered but they had a great day. Super inspiration for using pedal-power in urban centres.

Bicicletas de carga

Direction: Luisa Ojeda
Editor: Cristina Carrasco
Producers: Jordi Manuel Galí / Maria Luisa Ojeda / Luisa Ojeda

07 June 2010

Bicycle Orchestra from the Netherlands

Fietsharmonische Orkest
When I was in Lleida, Catalonia in April attending the 3rd Bicycle Congress, the conference arrangers hired 't Brabants Fietharmonische Orkest - or The Brabants Bikeharmonic Orchestra - to entertain the participants and locals alike.

What a great bunch of chaps, both on and off the bicycle. They travel all around Europe entertaining with their oompah music and everything revolves around the bicycle.

Here's a little film I whipped up with the boys on the bike. Much easier showing a film about musicians than trying to write about it, dontcha fink?

Fietsharmonische Orkest

Fietsharmonische Orkest Trailer
They have a driver who pulls the bike on a trailer around Europe to the various gigs. The volcano had paralysed air traffic - I was stuck in Barcelona for four days - but these guys bit the bullet and all rode home in this camper. Respect.

Website: 't Brabants Fietsharmonische Orkest.