Madrid launches electric bike sharing scheme

A new public electric bike share scheme has launched in Madrid, and 50,000 residents have already signed up!

Taking sharing to a whole new level, the Spanish capital has decided to help residents and tourists alike by allowing them to borrow and share electric bikes – a life saver for the city’s many hills and slopes!

The BiciMAD bicycles work like regular bikes, but an electric motor kicks in to help with pedalling. And why electric bikes? The city planners looked at the public bike-sharing scheme in place in Barcelona, but felt that there the stocks tended to accumulate on lower ground, and needed re-distribution frequently around higher areas.

An annual membership to the bike sharing scheme costs 25€, while renting a bicycle costs 50 cents during the first 30 minutes, then 60 cents for the next. The Madrid metro costs 1.50€ per ride.

Other European cities such as London and Paris have public bicycles available, but Madrid is the first capital to offer only electric bikes.

Margot Bonilla, a 28-year-old IT technician, started using the electric bikes in July and no longer uses the metro to get around the city, saying “You exercise, you don’t pollute and you move around fast.”. But, not everyone is giving the scheme a glowing reference, with several users complaining that there were not bicycles available where and when they needed them.

“We have a thousand bicycles available at 160 stations right now,” said the head of the BiciMAD system, Joaquim Jimenez. “We will have 2,000 electrical bicycles once the system is fully operational and the goal is to have 4,000 by 2026 when the contract ends,” he added.

Madrid city hall has spent 535,000 euros to rent the bicycles from Bonopark since the bicycle sharing program was launched in June 2014. It blames the shortage of bicycles on a technical glitch with the docking system, which often fails to recognise bikes and locks them, making it impossible for users to ride them.

Of course, cycling isn’t for everyone. But it’s great to see another major city getting in on sharing – and you can still use to carshare across the continent!

Photo credit: Clément Bucco-Lechat, Wikimedia

Author Lex Barber


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