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Bike-sharing Barcelona (vs. Rome)

September 1, 2011

Bike-sharing Barcelona

To get the blog active again after a lengthy summer lapse, I’m publishing here a brief article gleaned from some of the Italian-language sites, translated loosely by me and Google.  The original (author, francesco100) is at


Barcelona in 2007 decided to establish a bike-sharing system, called Bicing, which along with a more modern network of cycle paths would provide a serious alternative to the car. There are over 400 bike sharing locations around Barcelona, containing over 6000 bikes. If you consider that Barcelona and Rome started their experiment with the bike-sharing at the same time, the comparison is merciless. In Rome, in fact, there are fewer than 20 stations with less than 200 bikes, poorly located. Many bikes are lost. We would do better not even to consider the case of Rome.

On August 4, researchers published in the British Medical Journal published the results of research on the health effects on the citizens of Barcelona caused by the introduction of that city’s bike sharing system. Bike sharing encourages people to leave their cars and instead take the bike and public transport. The researchers looked at the effects on pollution and on the benefits of increased physical activity. The result is that every year in Barcelona the bike-sharing program saves lives at least 12 people and reduces emissions of carbon dioxide in the air by more than 9 000 tonnes per year. The effect of bike sharing is a waterfall. More bikes to encourage other cities to leave their cars and take your own bike. Then there is also an imitation effect. However, the presence of cars in circulation is a disincentive to cyclists, riding between the cars not being pleasant. A policy for mobility that keeps cars on the road so would increase the use of bicycles with additional effects on health and less pollution. A self-perpetuating process. More bikes, less cars, and therefore more bikes. But if you do so to increase the use of the car, it discourages the use of the bike and then further increase the cars and so on.

The success of bike sharing in Barcelona was amazing. Of 1.6 million inhabitants, 11% of residents of Barcelona have bought the card, while 1, 7% use the bike-sharing every day. It is estimated that more than 25 000 people every day have left the car to take the bike (or use bike sharing) after the introduction of bike sharing.

Returning to Rome, until 2013 there will be no change to the current policy of inaction on the bike-sharing, bike lanes do not make it, despite the announcements of the city plan for cycling, for the construction costs of the new underground are soaring at the speed of sound (for the benefit of whom?), and in return will provide thousands of more parking spaces for cars, so that those who use the car are as comfortable as possible. And if the British Medical Journal published a study on Rome, what results could we expect?

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