I just got my bike card! Last spring these electric bikes were installed all over the center and I just couldn’t get my act together to get the membership card in time to ride them before I left for Portland. The fall was crazy, winter was cold and then my wallet was stolen by the metro. Between you and me I ink part of me was truly terrified to ride a bike here since Madrid doesn’t have a reputation for being the most cyclist friendly. First I bought a helmet and then por fin I got my membership card at the kiosk downstairs. Let’s say I’m a recreational biker, despite just about everyone I know owning a fixie and/or commuting everyday to work on a bike (shout out to my dad) in the States, I would really rather walk or bus most places than deal with the hassle of owning/locking/maintaining a bicycle. My memory is scarred by the slow disassembling of my college bike that someone undertook over the span of a week on campus; it was locked but that didn’t stop them from first taking the seat, then the wheels and finally the handlebars. A slow and public death, I saw new pieces taken everyday on my way to class. It was a garage sale find so replacing the parts would have been way more expensive than the thing itself. RIP blue Nishiki…you are missed…on weekends and sunny bank holidays. The truth is I rode it only when I was late to class and it was heavy as hell!
Okay fast forward two years and here I am with these electric bikes all over the city, a boyfriend who LOVES to rides bikes and a new helmet. Did I mention that it also never rains here? All things go: I got a discount with my metro card so the annual “abono” only runs me 25€ and the bikes are super easy to click in and out of the stations. I put 10€ of credit on my card and have been riding for a month almost everyday – since the price is fixed for the first two hours I never really spend that much, mostly I use them to go up and down hills between private lessons or dinner with friends so it’s cheap. Also since the stations are everywhere I need to be, it’s also awesomely convenient and I’m never searching for a kiosk. I’m crazy about them and love that the electricity kicks in right when you need it. Now we just need drivers to pay a little more attention, I’m actually signaling more than cars are out there but the little side streets are crazy fun and much less crowded. Madrid city center is small so hopping on a bike makes moving around easier and more enjoyable than the sweaty underground metro on pretty much any day! Miguel complained at first, these bikes aren’t real bikes, they’re hard to park, they’re expensive blah blah blah. Then one day I insisted that we ride them to the movies, my treat and he bit -the sheer joy of feeling that electric kick once you start pedaling had him convinced by the time we got there. We made it to the theater in half the time it would have taken in a car. Yeehooo!
We are both now talking about how we can ride to work, lucky for me my commute is in the city. His will require some dedication in the winter but it’s a challenge worth accepting. I’m just happy that I’ve rediscovered biking! If you see the girl with the I 💚 Oregon sticker on her helmet it’s probably me! Don’t run me over!
Good places to ride:
1. Madrid Rio: a waterfront route with lots of bikers and runners, stop to play at the oversized jungle gyms.
2. Retiro Park: avoid people/dogs but take lots of brakes for cold lemonade or ice cream
3. Casa de Campo: the city’s most expansive park on the outer edge of Latina/Moncloa, you could pack a lunch and spend all day there biking through the paved roads or on the cross-country style routes.