In foreign lands there is always that one thing that connects us back home. The predominant cycle culture in Seville was that bond for Amrita Das.
Seville, Spain’s fourth largest city, has a flat ground with no ridges and no inclines. The town’s topography contributes greatly to its charm on cyclists. While returning from dinner on my first night here, I enquiringly pointed at the green paint on the tiled pedestrian path. I was told that these are dedicated cycle tracks which run through the city. While I wondered if these were actually used, a cycle zoomed past me. I paid attention to the frequency of bikes whizzing by and lost count in the next three minutes!
In the old town, the tracks are quaint and the cobblestone lanes here are partitioned with steel knobs. Many corridors of this part of the city are limited only to pedestrians and cyclists. On the other hand, the new, busier part of the city has broader roads for buses, cars and motorbikes. However, this does not deter the number of bikers. Here, the cycle way is a ‘cooler’ green and tarmacked lane with large cycle icons on it that a pedestrian must be blind to miss!
I observed that a majority of Seville’s resident populace is under 30. With a flourishing university which invites students, the two-wheels are a low-cost affordable option. Occasionally, I did see a few suited office-goers on their bikes too. And I have to admit, their bikes were sleek, envy-worthy—to match their professional stature perhaps. But what if a tourist wants to cycle around? Well, there’s the SeviCi dock. Claiming to have 250 docking stations at 300 meters apart around the city, SeviCi is on a mission to make Seville more bike friendly. Tourists can hire a bike by getting a weekly subscription from the machines at the station itself.
With darkness in the lanes and dim yellow lights in each corner, I assumed that perhaps the bikes would have reduced. I was surprised yet again as it made me realise that this was simply their way of life. After my dinner at Seville’s oldest bar, El Rinconcillo, I happened to step out and bump into a cyclist. As an Indian, we seem to always expect road rage, but he coolly reminded me that I had breached the cycleway partition, and went on. Perhaps, that’s the charm of Seville and its bike culture—it’s fun, it makes discovering any alien city an exhilarating experience, and it keeps people cheerful.