Tony Valente reports this week on bike-sharing in Spain.
Off to Salamanca, home of one of Europe’s oldest universities and featuring several UNESCO world heritages sites.
In Salamanca it became clear to that bike-share systems make a conscious choice to not compete with bike rentals since Salamanca’s system – Salenbici – does not offer short-term rentals. A not-so-prohibitive annual fee of 26 Euro means you probably need to be in town for at least a few days to recoup the membership fee. In contrast, renting a bike at a local shop cost only five Euros per hour and got successively cheaper per hour the more time you wanted the bike.
Salamanca’s system was relatively low tech. That is to say you could not just walk up to a street terminal and use your credit card, but needed to go to an authorized location with fixed office hours where you could complete the registration. Between that complexity and the annual only fee, a conscious decision was made not to ride Salamanca’s bike-share.
Where is the silver lining? Well, Salamanca as a smaller, more provincial town benefits greatly from less traffic, making riding in general more enjoyable as well as a great network of separated bike lanes. This was a place where you wanted to ride and were able to do so looking at amazing views of the city while crossing 2000-year-old Roman bridges that add something ancient to cycling infrastructure.