citizen cyclists making urban spaces liveable

25 June 2011

Cycle Chic Bloggers Conference Barcelona - Part 1

It's hard to imagine that this time last week I was in Barcelona hanging out with my fellow Cycle Chic bloggers, sharing stories, partying and enjoying unfettered bicycle freedom of the kind we're so unused to in Australia.

[above photos Mikael Colville-Andersen]

It really is another world away. Barcelona's bicycle renaissance is recent, apparently it was very different four years ago though riding through the city now it's hard to imagine.

There are bike lanes on seemingly endless straight streets, shared bike/pedestrian paths through leafy boulevards and narrow winding streets jam packed with cars, scooters and buses and yet everywhere there is a wonderful sense of co-existance.


Brilliant.  I'm a nervous road user in Sydney when I brave them at all yet here it took me minutes to feel completely at ease and at home. The pace is wicked like all European cities, loud, bustling, jostling, frenetic and yet there pervades an innate awareness between road/path users that surprised me. 

Taxi drivers pause and slow down to let you pass, darting a smile at you as they drag on a cigarette. Pedestrians, local and foreign alike, apologise if they stumble on to the bike path by mistake and jokes are shared with a smile.  Even navigating the huge intersections and plaças is fun.  Perhaps I was so happy to just be there that I didn't notice any bad will, I'm sure it exists, but perhaps too a happy disposition begets one? 
It's a way of acting that in Australia we forget all too often with our "combative" transport user mentality.

So ride I did.  Thanks to our friends Jamie and Vanessa at CitiBici I had the pleasure of borrowing a Creme HolyMoly bicycle for the whole stay.  Nice ride, lighter than my old Velorbis, 3 speed, pearly white, felt like the perfect Summer beach bike.  The old coaster brake took me a bit of getting used to but hey, no muy importante.
Thanks guys x

[photograph David Phu/Vancouver Cycle Chic]

So over the weekend we were 14 of us in all (plus assorted friends and lovers) from Copenhagen, Dublin, Montreal, Vancouver, Budapest, Bordeaux, Paris, Graz, Lisbon and Rio de Janeiro and the rest of the gang rode a mix of borrowed Bromptons, hire bikes and their own, flown in for the trip.  A better bunch of bike bloggers would be hard to find and despite the obvious attraction and fabulousness of hanging out with like-minded camera-wielding bike bloggers, we did work - more on that tomorrow.....


St Etienne said...

Man, looks like you had a heap of fun. Loved the dinking photos. Come on Australia: bring back the effin' dink!

I was in Barcelona in 2006, and while there a few people on bikes getting around I wouldn't have called it a cycling city. It just goes to show what you can achieve with the right people and the right vision, something we're sadly lacking in this country.

saskia said...

yep bring back the dink baby! i dink felix (4) all the time, it's his new favorite way to travel. shame i'm such a lawless rebel. can you imagine this top image in aus?
barcelona achieved this in a matter of 4years according to reports - how long will it take aus? will we live to see it? will we be bothered to wait or find our freedom elsewhere while we can?
my buring question since returning....

garryw said...

One eagerly awaits the next exciting instalment! Your last post before this one was so long ago I'd thought you had decided to stay there :)

Seen today in lawless Manly: man with his little son on top tube carrier just rolling along...but schlock horror - no helmets either, just lovely matching Tibetan beanies. They looked so cool.

Can't wait for Mike's exhibition opening.

Michael said...

Yes, it's a mystery. How do they do it. Create that easy going traffic vibe. Why are we so angry, so uptight and they're not.

Maybe we have to get shrinks onto this puzzle. it's a head thing.

Just been looking at Hangzou Bike share, the biggest in the world, 51,000 bikes. Again, the scene is calm, safe looking and not a helmet in sight.