This post may contain affiliate links, which help to keep Discerning Cyclist rolling. Learn more.
Are you looking for a warm city break to somewhere that encourages and promotes cycling? Look no further than Seville, one of the hottest cities in mainland Europe.
Seville (or Sevilla, known in Spanish) has implemented numerous cycling and active transportation initiatives to improve the city’s urban mobility.
With a population of over 685,000 in its center, Seville is one of Spain’s largest and most bike-friendly cities. Despite the relentless heat, it has become a model city for urban mobility and is continually celebrated for cycling and sustainable forms of transport.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at Seville’s biking statistics, infrastructure, safety measures, and initiatives and understand why this city is a role model for not just Spanish cities, but for European and even global ones too.
Seville: A Red-Hot City Encouraging Cycling
The city of Seville, located in the Andalusian region of southern Spain, has a long history of cycling. The city’s excellent climate and flat terrain make it an ideal location for cycling.
However, excellence is subjective when it comes to climate. While it can be said to have a Mediterranean climate characterized by hot summers and mild winters, the high temperatures in the summer can make cycling challenging. Generally speaking, during the middle of the day in the warmer months, cycling is discouraged in all forms.
In recent years, the city has realized active transportation’s social, economic, and environmental benefits and has worked towards building more bike-friendly infrastructure.
While previously a city of very few cyclists, Seville has successfully built 50 miles of protected bike lanes in just two years, at the cost of 5,000 parking spaces and over €30 million. Cycling has grown 11x in just over four years. This is an astounding feat, especially considering the limitations regarding the climate.
With the founding of Contramano in 1987 came many public demonstrations demanding the implementation of bicycle infrastructure, and, after many years of pushing, the activism has proved to be successful. The reception has been incredible, and if the plans were only spurred by a small minority, they’re now loved almost universally. This planning has been testament to the claim that “if you build it, they will come“. And come they have.
Bicycle Usage in Seville (Statistics)
Here are some interesting stats regarding bicycle usage in Seville. There are limited statistics on the exact number of bikes in Seville, but these stats indicate the popularity of cycling in the city.
- Approximately 1 in 10 trips are made by bike. – Medium
- The Sevillian municipality aims to increase the number of cyclists in Seville taking a daily bike trip from 67,000 to 115,000. – UCI
- There was a 452% increase in bicycle trips in three years. – Medium
- Of the daily cycling trips, roughly 23% are taken using the public bicycle-sharing network. – UCI
- There were a total of 1 million trips made by bicycle in Seville in 2017. – Medium
Cycling Infrastructure in Seville
Seville has made significant investments in cycling infrastructure in recent years. The local government continues to work diligently to create an environment where cycling is a natural and safe choice for citizens.
However, this wasn’t always the case. The calls for cycling infrastructure in the city started as early as 1987, but serious implementation didn’t happen until 2003 after a progressive coalition government came to power and set the wheels in motion.
- Between 2006 and 2013, the bike lane network increased by nearly 90 miles. – PeopleForBikes
- SEVici, the city’s main bike rental scheme, has over 2500 bicycles available at over 250 stations. – Andalucia
- There are more than 5,000 bicycle parking spaces in the Andalucia capital. – BikeTourSeville
Bike Lanes in Seville
Did you know that the bike lanes in Seville are some of the best in Spain and, reportedly, in the world?
The municipality builds bike lanes on main avenues and boulevards, and separate bike lanes have been created in the downtown area, including the city’s primary axis, Paseo de Colón.
The city boasts over 180 km of bike lanes as of 2020, outnumbered only domestically by Madrid and Barcelona, and these bike lanes are considered some of the most well-designed and safe in Spain.
The bike lanes in Seville aren’t just for residents but serve equally as well for the huge number of tourists. The scenic riverside routes are well-served, and the main tourist attractions are all interconnected by bicycle lanes.
Seville Spend on Cycling
Seville has undoubtedly spent a lot on cycling, but it’s proven extremely valuable. The investment has been hailed as an international success, and the city is now considered a role model in terms of cycling infrastructure.
- More than €32 million has been spent on the bicycle network. – PeopleForBikes
This figure may seem a lot, but compared to an €800 million metro line that less people use, it’s really a bargain. Investing in cycling is not just good for people and the environment, but it makes financial sense as well.
Cycling Rules in Seville
To ensure the safety of all citizens, Seville does have some specific safety rules when it comes to cycling. Failure to adhere to these can, and likely will, result in a fine.
- Cyclists must wear a helmet outside urban areas, or, risk a fine.
- Cyclists are not allowed to use mobile phones while riding.
- You cannot cycle under the influence of alcohol.
- You must have a bell on your bike.
- You must use lights on your bike between sunset and sunrise.
Is Seville investing in Urban Mobility?
Seville has been proactive in investing in sustainable urban transportation initiatives. Since 2007, when the Sevici bike-sharing system was introduced, the city has continued to implement various bike-friendly initiatives as part of their urban mobility plans.
The city has also implemented low-emission zones and has extensively invested in public transit, making the city more comfortable and appealing for cyclists.
Aside from bicycles, Seville has also invested in other aspects of urban mobility. In 2016 Seville became the first city in Spain to introduce an electric car-sharing program, which sits well with the micro-mobility options such as the e-scooter and e-bikes that are also available.
The city’s commitment to reducing car dependency is setting a new standard for sustainability in urban areas, reestablishing itself in a similar vein to many ‘car-free’ cities.
Is Cycling in Seville Safe?
In 2020, the city government launched a program to improve bike and pedestrian safety. The initiative aims, amongst other things, to secure more traffic signs and install more crosswalks.
- Cycling in the city is twice as safe as when cycling infrastructure was nonexistent. – Medium
The key to safety has been to maintain a separation between road users, and the number of bike lanes which are physically separated from both the road traffic and pedestrians have given people a feeling of security and comfort when it comes to cycling.
Cycling Accidents in Seville
As we already discussed, Seville is recognized as a particularly safe place to cycle. Considering how busy it is, and how many cyclists there are in Seville, it’s remarkable.
- The rate of cyclists killed or seriously injured per million trips has fallen by 90%. – Cycling Through the Covid-19 Pandemic – Buehler & Putcher
While there are limited statistics on the number of accidents in Seville, its safety is largely attributed to its extremely well-interconnected network (that isn’t just a succession of bike lanes). These limit the interactions between bikes, cars, and pedestrians, ultimately providing a safer environment for all road users.
Bicycle Theft in Seville
Seville is recognized as a safe city overall, but it’s essential to note that bike theft remains an issue. The city government continues to improve bike security, including installing more bike parking spaces and surveillance around public areas.
Having said that, bicycle theft is reportedly one of the city’s most common crimes. However, the rates appear to be low, especially when compared to the bigger cities such as Madrid or Barcelona.
Is Seville Bicycle-Friendly?
After considering all the factors, we can say with some certainty that Seville is definitely a bicycle friendly city.
Public opinion surveys show that the vast majority of Sevillanos are satisfied with the city’s bicycle infrastructure and initiatives, and the number of cyclists continues to increase year after year.
With a sprawling cycling network, dedicated cycling infrastructure, and a safety-focused approach, Seville has become one of the most bike-friendly cities in Spain.
Seville is a wonderful city to cycle in, both for residents, and for tourists, and whilst it isn’t car-free, it’s an extremely livable and comfortable city to cycle in.
A Seville Cycling Revolution?
Seville’s success should serve as an inspiration to other cities. The city continues to invest in sustainable transportation initiatives that benefit its citizens and set an example for other Spanish and European cities.
Seville’s cycling revolution is on fire, and as a community, it demonstrates that we can all make a difference by choosing to ride bicycles, even in hotter locations.
By investing in urban cycling infrastructure and building in accordance with community support, Seville has set a model for other European cities to follow. With cycling, there’s hope for a better, sustainable future, and Seville is a testament to that vision.