Friday, March 25, 2011

Biking in Sevilla: Orange Blossoms and Public Bikes

Sevilla used to be a dangerous place for bicyclists and pedestrians. Now the biggest threat is getting hit by a falling orange.” Guillermo Peñalosa, the Director of 8-80 Cities (a group dedicated to the creation of healthy cities and vibrant communities).

My first day in Sevilla has been really wonderful. It's 75 degrees, sunny, and it happens that we managed to time our visit with the citrus blossoms. The scent here is, almost literally, intoxicating. If you've never been somewhere where orange and lemon trees are in bloom, I highly encourage you to try to experience their scent. Wow.

I was also wowed by the public cycling system, SEVici (a play on words, since "bici" is short for bike here, and "v" in Spanish is pronounced like a "b" in English). The SEVici system is one of the many European bike rental systems that allow people to use public bikes from various rental stations all over the city. I wasn't sure that we'd be able to rent bikes this way, because some of my friends told me they could not use their American credit cards (which, for some inexplicable reason, do not contain the security chips used in Europe). Happily, though, our credit card worked!

The system is really fabulous. You can electronically register for the system at any station where the bikes are parked, then you get a code to use at all other stations. Once you're registered, you can use a bike for free for the first 30 minutes or pay 1 Euro/hour after that. The stations are all over the city, too, so you can rent a bike in one place, return it to a different station, pick up a new bike in another place, return that in any other station, and so on. It's really much easier than this clip suggests:

SEVici Public Bike Rental from Mark Riskedahl on Vimeo.

Judging from the many, many people I saw on a SEVici bike, Sevillianos really love the SEVici system, too.

1 comment:

  1. I studied for a year in Sevilla from 2005-2006, and there was no bike infrastructure. Then I went back to work for a few months at the beginning of 2010, and so much had changed. I was so impressed, just as you have been, by the system - and the degree to which the Sevillanos seemed to love and rely upon it, too. Thanks for sharing!