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Friday Film Fun: Bikeshare changing the face of cycling in Barcelona

Posted Mar 11 2011 10:33am

Today’s excellent film is a short documentary by Australian Sit-up Cycle on the Bicing program in Barcelona. The film credits the bikeshare program with transforming Barcelona from a car centric city to one of the most bicycle friendly cities in the world .

Bicing has been smart with how they’ve run their vehicle sharing program. They’ve put a large number of bikes at each station so users don’t fear there won’t be a bike for them. The visibility of all these bikes also help raise the profile of bikes on city streets so they are a natural part of the landscape.

Also interesting in the conversation is discussion of safety as a factor in encouraging cycling. The Barcelona stats show cycling is, next to walking, the safest form of transportation in the city. In Australia where mandatory helmet laws have been embraced as the way to safer cycling, cycling is more dangerous than driving. What gives? The organizers of Bicing say promoting cycling as safe is a self fulfilling prophesy, the more you present cycling as a safe alternative the safer it is. They criticize the focus on helmets as a fear based way of selling cycling. Every time you tell someone they should or must wear a helmet, you are reminding them that cycling can kill them. Not the way to sell a way of life .

The film ends with a discussion of adding more bicycle infrastructure and traffic calming to lower car speeds. Despite the bike friendliness of Barcelona, most cyclists ride on sidewalks causing conflict with pedestrians. Making the streets more inviting to all users via bike lanes, bike paths, and traffic calming is key. As the 50% reduction in accidents in New York City after bike facilities were added and recent research shows not only does this help sell cycling as a valued, legitimate form of transport, it also is safer.

More on Bicing in this video including how it has helped sell more bicycle infrastructure to the public.

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