Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Biking in Madrid

If you think you might be able to brave cycling around Madrid, good for you! It's a great way to see the real city and to discover many hidden corners. However Madrid unlike many other cities in Spain, is not bike friendly, as there are few cycle paths and no city wide bike rental scheme as in Paris or Copenhagen. The good news is the authorities in Madrid are decidedly committed to the promotion of cycling as an urban transport, and 274 kilometres of bike lanes are projected to be constructed in coming years, which will link together all Madrid districts.

Cycling in Madrid- only for the brave!

There are however a number of parks and open spaces such as Retiro, Parque del Oeste and the vast open wilderness of Casa del Campo on the edge of the city, if you prefer to cycle somewhere a little quieter. You could also try some of the smaller streets around Huertas, Malasaña, La Latina, Lavapiés, Chueca etc... where traffic is more restricted. If you really want to go off-road, there's the Sierra de Guadarama mountain range which is less than an hour from Madrid. Here you can find true nature and tranquility as well as plenty of excellent mountain biking routes. On weekends the cercanías trains, which serve the local area allow you to bring a bike on board.

If you want to sightsee by bike, the best idea is to go with one of the agencies in city that organise guided bike tours- see below. They will take you along safe and scenic routes, away from the mad drivers. Madrid isn't too hilly so, cycling around the city shouldn't be too tiring! Some of the agencies also organise cycling tours in the mountains around Madrid and in other parts of Spain, a country with beautiful areas for cycling off the beaten track. In the summer we recommend wearing good sun protection and bringing plenty of water.

Bike tours in Madrid
Mad bike (offer various tours around Madrid)
Bravo Bike (routes in Spain)
Urban Movil (bike and segway rental and tours- in Spanish)
BikeSpain (tours in Madrid and Spain)

Bike shops for renting or repair:
Bicimanía (c/ Palencia, 20 in Spanish)
Calmera (c/ Atocha, 98)

Here's an interactive map of cycle paths in Madrid. It's in Spanish, but not too difficult to work out. If you click the boxes on the right, you can see projected cycle lanes (vías ciclistas planificadas), bike shops (empresas de la bici),  and bike parking (aparca bicis) etc... We hope we can report some good news for cyclists soon!

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