Public Bike Systems in Spain

Public Bike Systems in Spain


L Carballeda Pérez, L Velasco Carrera, M Rojo Arce, H Gonzalo Orden, University of Burgos, ES


Increasing concern over sustainable transport has led to an interest in promoting cycling for daily mobility. In Spain, several public bike systems operate according to Europe. The study includes their evolution to define their strength and weakness


In Europe, 50% of trips made by automobile travel lengths lower than 5km. In Spain, people with forced mobility must perform an average of 3.3 trips per day and the 67% of them are made by motorized means (55% car and rest on public transport). The bikes have a range between 5 and 7 km, so they can replace the car in a major part of the daily demand.

In some northern European countries such as Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany, about 20% of daily trips are made by bicycle, while in other countries like USA and United Kingdom, the percentage of cycling almost rounds 1%.

The needing of modifying the people?s behavior towards a more sustainable mobility has resulted in increasing the use of bicycles in everyday commuting.

Public bikes have been consolidated as a public transport mode in many European countries. Its origin dates from the late 60's in Amsterdam, and nowadays we can talk about the fourth generation of public bikes. In Spain, these systems appeared in 2001 (3rd generation or SmartBikes) and since then, they have been implemented in different cities with a wide variety of success degrees. Spanish public bikes show a new urban public transport alternative, economic, fast and sustainable for daily urban mobility.
Recall that increase of cycling also depends on other key factors such as political constraints, social and cultural features, resources, environmental awareness, legal aspects, etc?

The proposed work analyses public bikes Systems in Spain. To do so, over the past two years, the authors have compiled a dossier with the main information about the use and characterization of the system in several Spanish cities. In addition, two surveys were made to complement it. The first one was made at local level and was oriented to know users? view of Bicibur (local bike system in Burgos city). And the second one was specific to the university community with the aim of finding out their opinion about cycling as they represent a big potential group towards sustainable mobility. From the results of these studies the authors have obtained three types of data:

1. Those related to the characteristics of the system: implementation date, schedules of operation, costs for the subscribers and users, and the responsible for their operation.
2. The numerical data related to the statistics use, evolution of the number of subscribers, number of stations and bikes. After that the authors defined some coefficients to evaluate their effectiveness, such as the number of stations or bikes per inhabitant and bicycle rotations, among others.
3. The costs of the system.

These results, in addition to demographic and mobility policies (enforcement of cycle lanes and restrictions for motor vehicles) for each city help us to define the strength and weakness of the systems.

This study also allows a global vision of the adaptation of public bikes in Spain in comparison with their intercessors in Europe.

In addition, the authors will propose a list of design recommendations for new locations and future extensions from two different points of view.

First, the quantitative data obtained from the various systems analyzed during the study, gives an idea of the level of acceptance by citizens of public bikes systems.

For second instance, a list of other qualitative recommendations taking from the public systems which are currently operating, are given in the second part of the conclusions.

Thus, once the review of public bikes systems is completed, the authors would like to reflect that the bicycle can be a feasible mode of urban transport within a new culture of sustainable mobility.

To finish, this study was developed due to the researching labor made in the Projects: ?PRO-BIKE. Planning and management methodologies for promoting cycling strategies? financed by CEDEX-Ministerio de Fomento, under reference number PT-2007-025-10IAPM (conditions regulated by Order FOM/2339/2006, of 5 July) and ?Sustainable Urban Mobility in local study/work trips. Application to the case of the University of Burgos?, financed by Junta de Castilla y León, under reference number BU022A08 (conditions regulated by Order EDU/1446/2006, of 15 September; modified by Order EDU/1567/2007, of 28 September).


Association for European Transport