Sustainable Biking for IES

1. Sustainable Biking for IES

1.1 What

The goal of this project is to start a collection of bicycles at IES Abroad Barcelona for students to use during their semester studying in Barcelona. We are purchasing 3 bicycles. The goal is to have future students continue to collect more bicycles.

1.2 Why

Using bikes to commute reduces dependence on less sustainable forms of travel such as cars, motorbikes, taxis, buses, and the Metro. Biking is also a carbon neutral and healthy way to travel.

A collection of bicycles makes the IES Abroad Barcelona program more attractive to prospective and incoming students. Transportation is an important aspect to consider when choosing a program and a city in which to study abroad. Especially since student housing is spread out all over the Barcelona, and commuting can be a big part of your daily routine. Commuting by bicycle offers students a way to travel that allows them to get some free exercise (as opposed to paying an expensive gym membership fee) and to experience the city in a new and healthy way. To any student concerned with living sustainably, getting exercise, and commuting inexpensively and like a Spanish resident, bikes are an obvious choice and this choice should be made available.

Potential Costs

Purchasing the bikes will cost between 100 and 150 euros each, depending on what bicycles Green Bikes has available. We have to wait until the end of the semester to buy the bicycles, because Cesar decided the bicycles cannot be stored at the IES building during the semester. Students who use the free IES bicycles will have to provide their own locking mechanisms and helmet, and they will be completely responsible for anything that happens to the bikes while under their possession, including the bike being broken or stolen (this will be understood by the student when they sign the liability agreement provided, before they receive a bike) Quality locks range from 18 Euros-80 Euros at Green Bikes. A helmet will cost between 30-50 Euro. Also, the bicycle maintenance will come at a small cost to IES. Before every semester, the bikes will need a safety check by a trained professional. Green Bikes does very affordable maintenance and tune-ups (Basic tune up is 15 Euros).


A majority of the IES Abroad Barcelona students primarily use Metro, Bus, and Taxi to travel long distances across the city. These modes of transportation, however are highly inefficient and unsustainable. In a typical car, for example, 80% of the energy is lost in heat-- about 1/3 of this energy is lost to acceleration and breaking and 1/3 is lost to friction of the tires against the pavement in the form of rolling resistance. Only 5% of the energy a car exerts is used to make the driver move. A bike, on the other hand is a much more efficient mode of transportation. Because peddling a bike does not go against the forces of gravity, almost 100% of energy spent is used to move the cycler forward. Providing the students of IES Abroad Barcelona with the opportunity to use the more efficient bike as a main mode of transportation has many potential benefits for the environment and for the IES Abroad community.
After the Initial cost of purchasing or renting the bike, maintaining and riding a bike for the semester would be fuel and cost free. This alternative has obvious environmental benefits over other modes of transportation. The following table displays emissions of different modes of transport in units of grams per passenger per kilometre traveled. (Annual Traffic Census 1997)

Mode of TransportationCarbon DioxideNitrogen Oxide
Rail (weighted average) 46.57.21
Cars 213.921.25
Taxis 147.57 .82
Public light bus 38.02.19
Single-decker bus 76.99.87
Double-decker bus 35.81.27

A student traveling by bike instead of any of these forms of transportation will greatly decrease their carbon and nitrogen footprints.
For students concerned with healthy living and exercise, there are numerous health benefits associated with biking. With light effort, biking burns about 375 calories an hour. In addition, adding cycling as regular part of your weekly exercise has been proven to reduce the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, combat obesity and diabetes, improve coordination, reduce body fat, and even improve mood.
Besides the environmental and health benefits, the IES Abroad Program will benefit by making this alternative mode of transportation more accessible to students. Any student interested in a more carbon-neutral,healthy or sustainable way of living will see the bike program as an attractive opportunity and may be persuaded to join the IES Abroad program over other programs in Barcelona who do not offer sustainable biking options.

1.3 How

In order to implement this action, we did a lot of research related to finding second hand and refurbished bikes for purchase. Our goal was to have a few bikes at the end of the semester that could be used by students in future semesters. We emailed all the bike shops in Barcelona that we could contact to negotiate prices, and we found the best deal at Green Bikes (also, we like that they take pieces of broken bikes and use them to refurbish older bikes, which is more sustainable than buying bikes brand new. Also, they are cooperatively owned).

We also worked with Cesar, the head of IES Abroad Barcelona to have the bike program approved and to draw up a liability waiver so that IES would not be held accountable for any harm that came to a student while they were using the bikes. Also, Cesar controls IES Barcelona funds, and he helped to work out the budget and supply us with the appropriate funds to buy bicycles. Also, we worked with an IES Barcelona staff member to draw up bike safety information that will be available to students using bicycles.

The bikes can be stored at the IES Barcelona terrace in between semesters, which is where the three bikes will stay until the new incoming students arrive. Then, the bikes will be distributed to three students in the Sustainability Club, according to a lottery system of all the interested students. At the end of the semester, it will be the job of the Sustainability Club council (president and secretary) to determine where the bikes will stay over the summer. Perhaps they can write up an agreement with a local parking lot that allows the bikes to be locked there over the summer.

The three students that have access to the bikes for the semester will be responsible for any damage to the bikes, will have to put down a 50 euro deposit, and will be required to supply their own helmet and lock(s).

We have not yet purchased the three bikes but have them picked out at Green Bikes. We are waiting to purchase them until the last couple days of the semester so they can go straight to the IES Barcelona terrace, and we do not have to worry about storing them elsewhere.

IES Abroad BCN bike liability waiver.pdf
Sustainability- bike safety document


1.5 Students Involved in Action

Betsy Fischer- Met with Cesar, constructed the bike safety information document with Ferran, research and contacted bike shops for price comparison for rental and purchasing bikes, helped write action page, had group meetings

Emma Witschi- Contributed to Benefits and Why sections.

Michael- Met with Cesar, constructed the legal liability waiver with Cesar, contacted bike shops for price comparison for rental and purchasing bikes, visited Green Bikes bike shop and discussed bike purchasing costs, emailed Cesar for initial funding for bikes, space availability, and safety information, helped write action page, had group meetings.

Caroline- Met with Cesar, constructed the legal liability waiver with Cesar, contacted bike shops for price comparison for rental and purchasing bikes, visited Green Bikes bike shop and discussed bike purchasing costs, helped write action page, had group meetings.

 Assignment: Peer review form

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 Grades for this action report (From the PROFESSOR)

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Very well in general. Unluckily, it seems that (again) the bikes were not bought, and this action stood in the design stage, but not fully implemented not even with just 3 bikes. See some specific comments below on improvable things: "A student traveling by bike instead of any of these forms of transportation will greatly decrease their carbon and nitrogen footprints." Good to know. But since you provided data of CO2 and NOx for a few other forms of transportation, the obvious question is how much does it produce a cyclist instead? (order of magnitude, at least). In addition, units are missing from the previous table from Annual Traffic Census 1997. By the way, Good that you cited your source of information. However, there is no reference with such name of "Annual Traffic Census 1997". In fact, at "1.4 References and Links" there are only links, not full details of your sources of information. "The three students that have access to the bikes for the semester will be responsible for any damage to the bikes, will have to put down a 50 euro deposit, and will be required to supply their own helmet and lock(s). " Ok, fair enough. However, your report doesn't say anything about who will handle the money (in euros). And about locks, U-shape are the good ones (all the others are easily broken by bike robbers in Barcelona). I don't see that leaving the bicycles unlocked in the terrace between semesters is a safety measure. To me, this is a point with high risk of failure: what if someone just takes one or more bicycles and don't provide them back? (it could be a person from IES Abroad community leaving late the building...). I would suggest that some lock or long chain with a lock is available at IEs Abroad Barcelona to lock the bicycles together, and that the key to that lock is kept by some person of the staff which can be responsible t manage that key and ensure that the bicycles don't just "disappear" with no one noticing for days/weeks between semesters. Good that you produced a draft for a waiver. Well done! (it was a remaining "to do" from previous semesters) From the "Sustainability- bike safety document" file: "1. Use a white headlamp and a red rear reflector for night riding." Well, it would be a pity to use non-rechargeable batteries in a bicycle, specially when you can add a dynamo for the sustainable electricity generation for the bulb/lights of the bicycle. "Wear a bicycle helmet. It is the law for persons under 18 years of age." That is know true as such. It's not compulsory inside cities, but if you are riding between cities, and in roads (not in streets). there are many details that should be taken into account to avoid getting a fine in Barcelona when riding a bicycle (you can). "Use bike lanes. Do NOT ride on the sidewalk." Again, this is allowed for certain width of streets. Read the city norms about riding bicycles (they changed in the last decade i Spain in general and in Barcelona in particular, at least; I don't remember which exact year; you can search for it in Spanish, at least). "References and links" is the equivalent to the "Bibliography" section of a paper, so you are expected to refer to your sources of information there, and not just to provide links for other sources of information that the reader might visit besides the information provided in the report. I mean, good that you provide links to places with more information, but you should have cited them previously elsewhere in the text, and provide full details of such sources of information (not just the url) here. You didn't indicate what is the process you suggest to have the 3 bicycles assigned to students willing to get one. And about parking at the terrace, if not parking device is added to the ground (like the ones in the city or similar upside-down u-shape irons to lock the bike to them), it should be indicated where the bikes should be locked to, to avoid nuisance whit other uses of the terrace. Why the section "Potential costs" has no special font or heading style, like "potential benefits" and the template had? The Director of IES Abroad Barcelona confirmed me that he agreed that you could organize one workshop with "Rebiciclem" project from "Biciclot" organization (refurbishing old and lost bikes, managed by the city council), and that the money to cover the costs of the technician doing the workshop sessions was to be covered by IES Abroad Barcelona, so that up to 20 students could learn to how refurbish and maintain their bikes while getting one for them to apply their learning (and use the bicycle afterwards, of course, lent by IES Abroad Barcelona). A pity that there was (it seems) some lack of coordination on this issue, because this source of refurbished bikes would have been much better, in my opinion, and cheaper in the mid and long runs. I hope next semester students can follow up the action linked to the "Rebiciclem" project ( http://www.biciclot.net/catala/rebiciclem - Ph. (+34) 933 077 475 - biciclot at biciclot.net )

Page last modified on Wednesday 04 of April, 2012 17:07:00