STAFF REPORTER

PALMA
PALMA City Council has been watching the success of Barcelona's “rent-a-bike” system, otherwise known as “Bicing” and is considering introducing the practice in the Balearic capital.

The public rental service in Barcelona has done better than all expectations since it came into operation in March this year. This method of transport started off with 200 bicycles stationed at 14 points around the city but today, there are 100 pick-up points, and 90'000 people have “bike tickets.” Mayor of Barcelona, Jordi Hereu said: “We've topped the 100'000 user mark in only six months.” He announced that “the system is going to go on expanding, not just in the number of bicycles but also in the selection of districts in Barcelona where there are pick-up points. To hire a bike, a user has first of all to register on line on the system's website: bicing.com, be over 16-years-old, and buy a multi-journey ticket. Citizens in the Catalonian Capital get an access card which permits them to take out a bike at any of the 100 pick-up points around the city. They are then obliged to return it to another recognised bike station. In Barcelona, the “Bicing” sites are located at strategic points around the city, such as close to metro and train stations. The idea is that in planning a journey from “A” to “B,” users can combine the bicycle ride with other forms of public transport. The largest group currently making use of the system at the moment is students, followed by office workers, engineers and public service sector workers. Over half the users are under 35 years-of-age. The most common purpose for using the rent-a-bike system is to get to work or place of study. In less than 15 minutes, users can cover a distance of 2.5 kilometres. The bikes are made of steel and aluminium, the sizing is adaptable, and the handlebars having a locking system incorporated to enable users to chain up the bike at drop-off stations. There is a “responsibility” insurance of 150 euros which the user has to pay if the bike disappears whilst it is in his care. The first city to invest in the idea of a “pick up and drop off” rent-a-bike system was Lyon in France. Across Europe, there are now 35 cities using the same method. In Spain alone, 24 towns have recently adopted the craze.

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