Cycling was a big part of my childhood. I cycled all the time; alone, or with friends, it was always a great pastime. I remember my very first bike – I got it for my birthday, it was blue and white, and it had stabilisers – and I remember learning how to ride on that bike. I loved it. But as I got older, for some reason, I used my bike less and less until it was eventually put at the back of the garage.
But I became a cyclist again when I moved to Seville, Spain – when I discovered Sevici.
Sevici is a public hiring service that began in Seville in 2007. When you join Sevici, you immediately gain access to over 2500 bikes that are available from the 250 parking stations throughout the city. For just €11 a week, or €27.50 a year, you can hire a bike as much as you want and at any time; and it’s free for the first 30 minutes of use with each subsequent half-hour costing just €1. Sevici is available to both residents and visitors of the city.
The Sevici bikes are red and silver. They're easy to use and have features of a typical bicycle, such as an adjustable seat, safety lights and a bell. They also have a large basket for shopping.
Before 2007, cycling wasn’t common in Seville: There was no cycling infrastructure and cars dominated the roads. It was unimaginable for someone to ride a bike to work or to school; in general, cycling was for experienced athletes or for people too poor to own a car. Cycling wasn’t part of the city’s culture.
But five years ago, the city constructed a complete cycling system, including Sevici and around 120km of cycle lanes. Sevici encouraged people to leave their cars at home and cycle more, especially for short journeys – and with the new cycle lanes, it became an easy, safe and convenient way to travel. And a popular way to travel too; so popular, in fact, that cycling in Seville has grown from being almost non-existent to an important part of daily life.
Seville is completely transformed. Thanks to Sevici, traffic congestion and pollution are declining, and there are fewer cars in the historic part of the city; people are more interested in exercise and in the environment. Seville already has a popular running and rollerblading community, but now there’s a healthy cycling community too.
Cycling was a big part of my experience abroad. I was a daily user of Sevici and I loved it. It was great for travelling the city and for getting to work quickly. For me, Sevici was an affordable service, it was practical, easy to use and the bikes were very comfortable. I would really recommend it.
And now that I've returned to Scotland, I don't want to give cycling up. I miss it. And maybe when it's sunny, it'll be as if I'm still in Seville – the cycling capital of Spain.