Sevilla gets it! This beautiful, traditional, and historic city has gone all in with cycling. Between 2007 and 2010 the city constructed 120km of cycle track where virtually none existed before. Like Citibike, Sevilla has Sevici, which you see being pedaled all over the city. In NYC, cycling has been embraced by some NYC officials [Jeanette Sadik Khan] and either detested or ignored by others. Sevilla's authorities are all on board. Here is a quote from Seville's deputy mayor, Antonio Torrijos, "We're still far from other admirable examples, from which we continue to learn, but we're confident that we've established the basis for Seville to become a member of the club of cycling-friendly cities, making for happier citizens, and there's no going back." The Seville Town Council has monitored usage over the period of cycle path construction and says trips by bike have grown from 6,000 to 60,000 per day. Encouragingly, around 30 percent of those taking to two wheels said they would have gone by car previously .
My hotel gave out free bikes to its guests. After failing the two minute bike check [yeah - I do it even when not cycling with the 5BBC] - some minor repairs were made and I took off to explore. The first thing that one notices is the infrastructure. Lanes are all well marked with either green paint or raised discs embedded in the sidewalks. Where the lane turns, there is an arrow showing the way. Where there is a traffic light or driveway upcoming, these are also noted on the pavement. There are separate traffic lights for cyclists, that are for the most part followed. The lanes go all over the city and across the river to Triana, Seville's Brooklyn. Certain streets are only open to cyclists and closed to cars. Cycling is safe and comfortable.
It takes a while on the bike before you realize that there has been an easy peace established between cyclists, motorists and pedestrians. Motorists always give way to cyclists. They see you and just know to stop when you enter an intersection. One big difference between cycling in NYC and in Sevilla is that where there are no lanes, bikes are to ride on the wide sidewalks and not the street. Here, cyclists know to give way to pedestrians and uphold their right to walk unimpeded by bikers. The rights of motorists, cyclists and pedestrians seem to be respected without the finger pointing [usually the middle one] and name calling that often is encountered in NYC.
I decided to bike along the river as far as the trail would take me. Seville is quite flat, and the peddling was easy. The Guadalquivir is a beautiful river filled with kayaks and racing sculls. Palm trees, bright flowers and colorful old buildings line the sides of the river. I then left the river where the trail took me through residential neighborhoods and various parks. I had no specific route in mind and was just following whatever trail struck my fancy - generally moving east. When I got to the end of the trail - I looked up and saw the sign saying "SEVILLA". I had come to the city limits and it was time to turn it around.
I did not want to do a there and back; getting lost is part of the fun, so I took a meander along various other pathways. I collected three bridges bouncing back and forth across the river into Triana. The skies threatened, the rain came and went, I continued pressing westward. Hungry and thirsty, I stopped at an outdoor cafe for a bacon and egg sandwich and fresh squeezed OJ. I then found a nice park and took a little rest before heading back. I consulted both my map and a parks employee, "Donde esta la puente de Reyes Catolicos" for directions.
There is no better way to see a city then on a bike. You do not just whiz by like you do in a car. You also can cover a lot of ground. It was great seeing how a more mature cycling city behaves - and realizing just how far Sevilla came in a short period of time.