From Monday 6 March, bike hire in Madrid will be free, and will remain so until the end of July.
The intention is that the service will be expanded to cover 611 locations this year, providing coverage for the first time to Barajas, Hortaleza, San Blas-Canillejas, Vicálvaro, Villa de Vallecas and Villaverde.
The new model of electric public bicycles, now recognisable by its blue chassis, is activated in coexistence with the current one. Both will be operational in the coming months while the old vehicles are replaced by the new design, with extra features such as greater ergonomics, built-in GPS, screen and puncture-proof wheels. The free service “will be valid for both systems and all stations during the period of coexistence until the implementation project is completely completed”, according to the town hall.
With this measure, the municipal government seeks to “encourage cyclist mobility in the capital and that citizens can learn first-hand about the advantages offered by the new bicimad.” The fleet will increase from the current 2,964 units to 7,500, all of them newly acquired, thus renewing all those currently circulating in the city.
The bicimad application will also be renewed by adding new features. ” Whoever has downloaded the application will have to update it and new users will have to register in that app and they will have to incorporate the documentation and also a credit card as is normally done when registering, but they do not have to pay”, they detailed. Those who have an accumulated balance “will not be removed” for using the service.
The free trips must last a maximum of 30 minutes. “Every half hour they will have to leave the bicycle and take another or the same one so that there is greater availability, so that no one can take a bicycle all day without using it,” they have ruled.
The new bicycles have been made from recycled aluminium and have a “more manageable and robust design, which substantially improves the user experience.” The battery is integrated into the bike frame for greater safety and will offer up to 70 kilometres of autonomy. In addition, you can easily check your status on the new screens, which also show speed. As a novelty, the chassis has an anti-theft and anti-vandalism mechanism as the wiring for the brakes, gear change, lights and electric propulsion is inserted into it.
During the coexistence stage of the two systems, cyclists will be able to leave the new bicycles locked in the vicinity of the stations that have not yet been renewed, even if they cannot anchor them because the mechanisms are incompatible. In addition, when a base is complete you can leave the bike next to the rest and lock the padlock. Anchoring the vehicle to the infrastructure is no longer an obligation. The new technology will even allow the creation of virtual bases, in such a way that bicycle parking spaces can be set up in parts of the city whose location will be geolocated. Thus, it will be possible to give specific coverage to events or provide an alternative if one of the network bases fails and is disabled.
For its part, the network of stations is multiplied by two, going from 264 to 611. “From the first week of March we will be able to offer up to 100 new ones, mainly in districts outside the M-30,” announced the Mayor, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, last January. The Government does not specify how many will be operating on March 6, but it is known that 122 of the new bases will be located in the six territorial demarcations that still do not enjoy the service. In Barajas there will be 15; in Hortaleza, 30, in San Blas-Canillejas, 27; in Vicálvaro, 14; in Villa de Vallecas, 18; and in Villaverde, also 18.
Likewise, the number of bases will be increased in the rest of the districts, with the exception of Salamanca and Chamberí. Specifically, up to 225 stations will be created in the following locations: 16 in Arganzuela, 11 in Chamartín, 9 in Tetuán, 40 in Fuencarral-El Pardo, 18 in Moncloa-Aravaca, 28 in Latina, 33 in Carabanchel, 15 in Usera, 21 in Puente de Vallecas, 7 in Moratalaz, 21 in Ciudad Lineal, 3 in Centro and 3 Retiro.
The maintenance of the new bicimad stations will be facilitated through the permanent monitoring of the anchored bicycles, bouncing information about their status to a diagnostic tool. In addition, the user will be able to report that a bike needs to be checked by pressing a physical button located on each of the anchors. As a complement to improve a service whose operation has been questioned by users in the last year, the City Council has planned a reinforcement of the workforce, adding 40 new employees.
The public bicycle service app will also undergo changes, as mentioned, and the new user experience will be integrated into the MPass, the single account system associated with all the services of the Municipal Transport Company (EMT), which includes buses, parking lots, bicimad and parking for bicycles. The payment formula changes and it will no longer be mandatory to preload the current wallet. The user will associate a means of payment to their MPass profile on which the trips made or the subscriptions contracted will be charged and they will be able to access the bicycle with their mobile phone through NFC, QR reading or by associating their card to their MPass profile of bicimad or your transportation card.
The Madrid City Council will invest 48.8 million euro in the transformation and growth of bicimad, 30 million contributed by European Next Generation funds. The announcement that it will be free for the next five months coincides with the electoral measure presented by the socialist candidate for Mayor, Reyes Maroto, who has promised to offer a zero-cost rate for those under 30 if she governs.