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When I was in Barcelona I saw many bike sharing stations in the city, belonging to a program called Bicing. Remembering how convenient it was to use the service in London, I decided to try and register. However their website was in Spanish/Catalan and the stations themselves didn't have a registration option, so I gave up. Reading up on Bicing later on I've found the following paragraph on Wiki:

The Bicing member cards are only sent to addresses in Catalonia in an attempt to prevent tourists from using the system.

Is this still true as of 2016? If so, is it possible to register and send a Bicing card to a friend's/hotel's address?

The official website also mentions an "In person" ("De manera presencial") registration option. Is it possible for a tourist to use that instead?

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No, you can't use Bicing bikes. Only locals can use it, the membership card takes 15 days to arrive. The membership card is personal, and can't be lended. Also, you need a Spanish address, and you pay 48 euros for a whole year.

  • What if I have a Catalan friend who can receive a letter for me? Or a hotel/Airbnb that can receive one? – JonathanReez Jul 9 '16 at 11:33
  • The card is personal, and you pay 48 € for a whole year travelcard. Also, the bikes can only be used for 30 min, then you start paying up to 2 hours. – Joan G Jul 9 '16 at 11:34
  • Really, just go to a rent a bike shop, it is much better for you. Bicing is not for tourists. And you need a DNI number (only spanish have it) or the residence permit number. – Joan G Jul 9 '16 at 11:35
  • The system can't be cheated, beacause it is stupid to pay a whole year travelcard when you aren't staying a year in Barcelona. And you need a residence permit number to sign up, which is given if you can show that you're living in Barcelona and not in a touristic apartment. – Joan G Jul 9 '16 at 11:39
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    @JonathanReez As far as I remember, there are no personal identifiers on the card (this was 2011). It is possible to borrow a card from a local friend. However, this is forbidden by the terms of contract - but ensuring this is impossible. Go figure. – FooBar Jul 9 '16 at 15:34
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It’s not possible. You need a Dni/NIE national identity number in order to register and an address. Hey wouldn’t send it to a hotel or guest house. You can borrow someone’s card since there’s next to no enforcement however. As long as you aren’t doing anything too crazy to make them want to check the card you’re using.

It’s deliberately impossible for tourists since they would utilise all the bikes and stations and put all the rental places out of business. Here’s nothing worse than empty bike stations everywhere when you’re in a hurry or full stations everywhere when you need to park.

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    It works just fine with tourists in London though. And in many other cities. It's the locals who end up drying up the city center after work or filling up it up in the morning, not tourists. – JonathanReez Feb 25 '18 at 1:22
  • I think it is the financing side that restricts use by tourists, as cities are less likely to support structures for tourists than for locals. – Willeke Feb 25 '18 at 8:45
  • @Willeke they could've simply raised the prices for non-residents so that the city doesn't subsidise them. From what locals told me, the real answer is that the bike rental shops raised a big brouhaha about the Bicing schema, forcing the spineless government to restrict the operation to tourists. The very same spineless government banned Uber from the city under pressure from the taxi mafia. – JonathanReez Feb 25 '18 at 15:08
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In the end I've worked it out by borrowing a card from a local friend and using it to enjoy the rental bikes. There's no enforcement of the residency rules once you have the card and at the end of the day Bicing employees have no authority to demand you show them your passport or ID card.

So if you have an acquaintance in Catalonia, ask them to get a card for you. If you spend at least a week in Barcelona per year it's worth the 48 euros and it's even more cost effective if your friend wants to use it as well while you're gone.

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Be aware, there is, in fact, an enforcement. I was once stopped by local police and asked documents for my bicing card. After he checked my card number in his app he knew my age and name and checked with my id. I asked him why I can't lend the card to others and he warned me that if some accident happens, there might be a fee of up to 5000 euro, because insurance only works if the person paying for bicing is using it. The reason he stopped me was because I had Apple's airpods in my ears.

  • The policeman was likely having a power trip: I seriously doubt they're allowed to enforce Bicing rules and regular bicyclists don't need insurance in Spain so it's legal to bike without one. – JonathanReez Aug 26 '18 at 15:01
  • @JonathanReez legal doesn't mean you can't be sued if you cause some damage... – Rg7x gW6a cQ3g Aug 27 '18 at 11:30
  • @Rg7xgW6acQ3g sure but the police cannot just demand that you have some sort of insurance and threaten an imaginary 5000 euro fine. – JonathanReez Aug 27 '18 at 14:10
  • @JonathanReez but here's no mention about 'fine' but 'fee'... which could be a fee for damaging a bike etc. – Rg7x gW6a cQ3g Aug 27 '18 at 14:25
  • @Rg7xgW6acQ3g sure, it could be a fee for damage. Still doesn't give a policeman the right to enforce Bicing rules. Unless of course there's a special law in Catalonia which gives them this power. – JonathanReez Aug 27 '18 at 14:28

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