Hwy 10, West of Mandan

Hwy 10, West of Mandan

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Barcelona – City of the Small-Wheeled Bicycle

A recent trip for work to the Catalonian region of northeast Spain provided an opportunity to visit Barcelona.  I had two opportunities to experience the city between visits with IRTA scientists and participation in the REMEDIA V Workshop, both in Caldes de Montbui.  As a bustling port city of 1.6 million, Barcelona is blessed with excellent public transportation, with travel by train, subway, and bus accessible and inexpensive.

What I didn’t expect was the extent by which bicycles were used in the city.  Everywhere I looked people were on bikes, with many using the ‘small-wheeled’ variety suitable for folding.  Barcelona’s bike-share program also uses small-wheeled bikes, with fenders, chain guards, a front rack, and front and rear lights.

(Bike-share bikes to the right)

(Bike-share bikes to the left)

(Service truck delivering maintained bikes to a nearby bike-share station)

(First visit to Barcelona done, waiting for the Caldes bus…  …watching the bikes go by)

(T=0 seconds; Bike #1)

(T=45 seconds; Bike #2)

(T=60 seconds; Bike #3…   …and so on)

With an abundance of folding bikes in the city, I made the most of my second trip by visiting a Brompton Store.  What an experience!  The store manager took time to share the features of this London-made folding bike, highlighting tradeoffs of different handlebar, rack, and luggage choices.  I even had the opportunity to ride a Brompton…  …a first!  Though the ride was just a quick loop around the block in a protected bike lane, I could feel the snap in acceleration that so many people talk about when riding a Brompton (the result of small diameter wheels).  Riding in an upright position felt odd at first, but I quickly adjusted, and actually enjoyed being able to scan the road ahead without having to extend my neck upwards.

(Entrance to the Brompton Store, near the Urgell metro stop)

(A wall of Bromptons)

(First Brompton ride)

(First Brompton fold)

Once done with the ride, I took time to learn how to appropriately fold a Brompton.  As it turns out, there are a number of ways to do it wrong (I was especially adept at doing it incorrectly).  The manager showed me the ‘tricks’ to get it folded efficiently and quickly.  The folding experience was every bit as impressive as the ride.

Oh, my mind is spinning with the possibilities.  Is there a need for a Brompton in my bike stable?

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