I just passed the one year mark with Valenbisi, Valencia’s great bike share system. The system itself began in June of 2010 but wasn’t really completely operational until last December or so. There are still some proposed new stations but it is all pretty much in place and working well. About the only complaint anyone could have against the program is that it is too popular. There needs to be more stations in the city center in order to accommodate just how wildly successful the system is right now. There are somewhere around 135,000 subscribers thus far which represents a bit over 10% of the population—not nearly as popular as the Vélib’ system in Paris after which our system here is based.
I was a hardcore cyclist long before the idea of bike sharing but Valenbisi has made my life much better. No matter where I am in the city I have a bike available to me. I go everywhere around town by bike. Almost everywhere because last night I was so tired after a great workout ride in the morning to the southern beaches I decided to take the bus home from my French class. I walked out of the door from class, walked a half a block, hopped on the #19 bus, and got off two doors from my apartment. But as easy as the metro and buses are in Valencia I rarely use them because the bike, for me, is the perfect urban transportation solution. I suppose that public transportation is a nice option when the weather is crappy but that isn’t the case very often here. Besides, I don’t mind riding in the rain.
There definitely seems to be more cyclists on the road now than there were only one year ago. There needs to be a lot more, but I think that will happen. There is still the major problem of brutish drivers and the overall lack of respect given to cyclists here in Valencia. The bike path network is growing every day so it’s not like the city itself isn’t committed to making bicycling a viable option in Valencia. I think that I speak for many citizens here when I say that I’d like to see Valencia become a first-rate city for bicycles sooner rather than later.