I am one of those rare people who grew up without having a family car. During my teenage years I occasionally found this frustrating – basically when I wanted to go to concerts in Seville (I lived just outside the town). The train connections were fairly good, but didn’t run at night. I really looked forward to turning 18 so I could learn how to drive, which I never did. After years thinking about the expense of getting a license, the fact that I had no-one’s car to borrow, the cost of buying a car, insurance, petrol, I eventually got over it.
Seville ranks pretty high on most lists of best cities to cycle in, but it seems impractical in a way to have your own bike. Taking it into a jam-packed train, and then having to leave the bicycle outside and risk it being stolen.
I have always been crazy-walk-all-over-the-place-lady, and I really enjoy walking with my earphones in. However, there came a point when I had to cover more than possible in less time than I had, so I started thinking about using the bikes. Most buses run pretty well, but I just find it boring being stuck inside a means of transport.
Bike lane on Triana bridge, Seville (photo source: El País)
So here are a few reasons Seville is great for cycling:
1: It’s flat! Really flat. There’s some really gentle slopes from time to time, meaning you don’t even notice it unless you cycle with some weight or are really tired. Not enough of a slope to notice it’s there when it’s walking – so much so that Aogitsune spent ages trying to convince me that there was one of them between Ronda del Tamarguillo and Gran Plaza.
2: there’s a great cycle path. It does disappear sometimes, or it will have bumps or run into a tree. But all in all it provides great coverage of most of the city, off the road, which makes it safer. You can check the routes here
3: the weather. Debatable, perhaps. It is said that Seville has two seasons: summer and winter. I would say maybe 6 months a year are really pleasant. In winter it doesn’t rain often, but when it does it really chucks it down. It never goes below freezing temperature, and most of the time it stays above 5ºC, even at night. From March to November temperatures stay above 20ºC and can actually make it to over 40ºC in the ‘real’ summer (June-August). You can most definitely cycle in these temperatures if you stay well hydrated, although it’s tough on big avenues where the trees aren’t really big enough to provide enough shade for the bicycle path. There are always people who brave it, though!
4: shared bike programme. The main one, which is the one the town hall promotes, is Sevici, and it really great. You can pay for a short-term pass if you’re just visiting, or get a yearly pass with optional insurance (I got them both for about 37 euros). Back in my day if you studied at the University of Seville you could actually get the card for free. You can then use the bike for free for 30 minutes, and if you go overtime they start charging an affordable fee. That said, if you find a station on your way you can return the bike and take it again, restarting the timer. The only drawback – apart from the occasional bike not working – is that sometimes you’ll go to a bike station and it will be full up, so you might have to go to another station. The good thing is that, where this normally happens, near train stations or faculties, the bike stations are much closer to each other than elsewhere.
5: bus-bici programme, where, if you go into Seville by bus with your Consorcio de Transporte de Sevilla pass you can borrow a bike for free, to be returned by midnight.
6: bike rentals available for tourists throughout the city – I assume it’s the most expensive option but you will almost certainly get a lighter bike than you would with Sevici!
So if you ever go to visit Seville (which is a wonderful city, and I’m not just saying it ’cause it’s my birthplace) I encourage you to explore it by bicycle, because it most certainly is the best way to enjoy it.