Barcelona Expands their Public E-Bike System

The second phase of Bicing electric will see more members added to the popular program.

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Photo by Xavier Trias

Photo by Xavier Trias

Barcelona recently put in motion the second phase of their electric bike share pilot program, Bicing electric. First launched in 2007, Bicing is a public bike share program for Barcelona residents that sees wide usage across the Spanish city. In December 2014, they added a pilot program of public e-bikes alongside the traditional mechanical bicycles.

The first phase saw 1,500 people register for the “electrified” option. According to Barcelona mayor Xavier Trias, the initiative was so successful that there was a waiting list of 2,500 people hoping for a membership.

In the second phase, launched on February 2, 2015, the 2,500 hopefuls were awarded memberships to Bicing electric and a new wait-list was opened. Within a week, another 319 people had signed up.

The second phase will have 46 Bicing electric stations, 300 electric bikes, and a forecasted 4,000 users after the addition of the waiting list. It is slated to continue until 2017, when further growth options will then be considered.

The Bicing electric program has received some criticism for not having e-bike stations in some of the hilliest parts of Barcelona. According to Trias, this is largely due to security. The Bicing electric program cost the city 5 million euros, and each individual bike is valued at over 1,000 euros. The placement of the stations has been dictated by crime rates rather than geography.

However, even if the placement of the stations isn’t completely ideal given the geography, the program’s success speaks to the effectiveness of electric bike shares. In its initial phase, Bicing electric recorded daily averages of 115 riders covering an average of 1.6 miles (2.7 kilometers) in each trip, compared to 1.2 miles (1.9 kilometers) on the mechanical bikes.

Developed by Ecobike in collaboration with a few local Catalan companies, the e-bikes have a range of 24 miles (40 kilometers) and can reach 20 mph (32 km/h) thanks to their rechargeable rear motor. It’s pedal assistance that would definitely be useful in hilly urban areas.

If it takes e-bikes to convert casual riders to biking for transportation, let Bicing electric’s success serve as a model for other hilly – or flat – cities who are considering implementing similar programs.

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