By Esther Peñas
Although there have always been those who have opted for the use of the bike as a means of transport, for a few years, the European authorities have been encouraging its use. The French town of Rennes was one of the first municipalities to opt for a public bicycle service on the street, at the end of the nineties. Two hundred bicycles and 25 parking spots. It was followed by Oslo in 2001 (1,200 bicycles and 120 parking spaces). In Spain, the first city was Barcelona (1,500 bicycles, 100 collection and delivery points), and then Córdoba, Gijón and Seville.
The origins of bicycles for public use are not a proposal of modernity. The Dutch activist Laurens Maria Hendrikus, a member of the Provo countercultural movement (based on the principle of provoking violent reactions among the ruling class with non-violent citizen actions) designed theWhite plans, in the 60s that stitched actions to improve the quality of urban environments. In them he introduced the proposal to offer twenty thousand community bicycles to reduce pollution.
To the bicycle network are added the designation of the bike lane on the roads as well as the implementation of road safety education campaigns. The regulation is still incipient, but it is being developed to protect cyclists, pedestrians and drivers of other vehicles.
Each year about 100 million bicycles are manufactured worldwide. According to Jaume Ferrer, editor of Tradebike, Spain is the sixth country in Europe where the most bicycles are sold (355,757 are manufactured), and its turnover moves around 1,300 million euros per year. This market employs some fourteen thousand people.
Ferrer points out that there are more than three hundred companies dedicated to the bike world in our country. “More than 80% of those stores are independent, while the remaining 16% are chains or stores of a specific brand. Approximately 60% of the business is concentrated in the sale of bicycles; the components make up 24%, and the remaining 16% comes from the clothing and accessories trade ”.
Sebastián Verbeke is one of those young entrepreneurs from Madrid who opted for this type of business. Your local,14Bikes, has been dispatching "above all, workshop service for three years, although we increasingly sell more accessories, such as helmets, because awareness of looking for safety increases." Now an online service has just been launched through which they send all kinds of parts to any point in Spain.
But there are more artisans, such as Andrés Aguerri, founder ofNovitiate Cycles. Make custom bikes. Customized, as connoisseurs would say. The dedication that this job requires prevents him from preparing more than two a month and, although they are expensive (the average price of each of these utility vehicles is around 1,500 euros), in 2015 he completed fifteen orders, some from other countries.
According to the latest Bicycle Barometer in Spain, more than 22 million Spaniards have one for personal use. In Spain, many more mountain bikes are still sold than city bikes, although these are going the distance. The average price of the first is around 211 euros, while urbanites cost about 169 euros.
The implementation of this vehicle is reflected in the level of associationism, since today there are 55 associationsprobici in all Spain. “They are still few, but they are increasing. Between 2008 and 2011, the number of people who went to work by bike doubled, from 6.8% to 11.9%. There is a growing feeling of belonging to a group ”, assures Juan Merallo, spokesman forBike, an entity that promotes the use of bicycles in cities.
What is clear is that, beyond the almost immediate benefits of cycling (environmental impact, improved health, optimization of space and the family economy), the bicycle sector has also become a market niche that not only branches out but also takes hold. Einstein, in the end, was also right when he said that “life is like riding a bicycle. If you want to keep your balance you can not stop".