Barcelona Bike share system “Bicing” – 105,000 people can’t be wrong!

Re-blogged from: sustainaboost

I am amazed! No more being stuck in traffic, no more trying to find a parking spot, no more running after buses, no more time spent on, by tourists and pickpockets crowded metro platforms, no more waiting for the tram or wasting money on expensive taxi fares!

After trying for just a little bit more than a week. I am totally convinced! I love “Bicing” and its great concept of bike sharing here in Barcelona. If I’m alone to see the clever in this? No! Almost 105.000 citizens are using this service and the popularity is growing.

In Barcelona bikes are stolen all the time and you’re recommended to invest the same amount of money on your locks, as you did on your bike in the first place. …but, with Bicing, you’ll need no more worries my friend.

You don’t need to carry your bike up and down the stairs anymore, and no matter where in the city you are, you can almost be sure to have a Bicing station within two or three blocks from you. Where I live, I have six stations within a distance of 300 meters, the closest one is just a block away.

Click on the pic below to see the map showing the locations of all Bicing stations.

Bicing Station by the beach in Barcelona

Bicing Station by the beach in Barcelona

Whenever you want to go somewhere in the city, you just catch a bike from nearest Bicing station. Slip your magnetic card, grab the bike suggested on the display and off you go. You have 30 minutes per ride on your annual subscription included. If you’re holding on to the bike longer than that you need to pay an extra fee.

About 45 euros is the yearly cost, that´s pretty much what I spent before only on Metro cards every month. You can return your bike at any of the 420 stations around, wherever it is convenient for you.

Bicing has 6000 bikes available for its clients and every bike travels an average of more than 550 km per month. That’s pretty impressive.

The photo below is a link to a map of Barcelona with the main bike lanes displayed.

Bike lanes photographed from my balcony

Bike lanes photographed from my balcony

Barcelona is an excellent city for this concept. The weather conditions are great most time of the year. Since the main part of the city is rather flat you don´t need to struggle going uphill all the time. There are also a lot of space, for example if you’re cruising on the beach walk or along the biggest streets and avenues like Diagonal or Gran Via. Usually you just need to go a couple of blocks to find a nice bike lane integrated in the street.

It feels very good to cycle through the city, passing car queues and traffic jams smoothly, and it´s so nice to feel the breeze in your hair while moving around downtown in the sunshine instead of sitting or standing in a really warm bus.

Below you have screenshot of the Bicing smartphone app. It’s really useful, showing you where you can find an available bike or a space to park the one you´re already on. If you click on the pic you will see a listing of the largest bike sharing programs around the world.

Is there bike sharing in your city? If you have experience or thoughts on the concept, please feel free to comment on the blog post! :)

Some of the more than 420 Bicing stations in Barcelona

Some of the more than 420 Bicing stations in Barcelona

Unfortunately Bicing is not available for tourists from outside of Catalonia. I now that in Gothenburg for example you can get a three days pass on the bike sharing there for about €1,20 and that’s a good price. Here the many bike rental shops were strictly against these kind of offers. As a tourist you can find so many alternatives to Bicing, but if you´re living here it´s truly recommended. Personally I think it´s the very best way of getting around here, no doubt.

Sustainaboost just registered on Instagram a week ago. If you like the new photos, feel free to follow us there. Just click on the picture for the link so you can like and comment on all future pictures. Come on now, click! …let’s see if you can click on my nose! ;) Hehe!

Cruising on a mission ;)

Cruising on a mission ;)

Wonderful little movie of a cruise in Barcelona! Looks great don’t you think?!

[Editor’s note: Please visit sustainaboost.com to view the YouTube video showing the “Bicing” bike ride around Barcelona]

Anyway folks, I’m so happy that I started to use Bicing. This city changed a lot in my point of view, and it’s all for the better. If you also want to subscribe on this wonderfully clever bike sharing, that saves you money, improves your health and reduce emissions and noise.

Just click on the Bicing logo below for the official webpage! …and if your family and friends or anyone you know are tired of the traffic situation, just recommend them bike sharing or share this blog post with them, so they can read a little bit about it as well. You can find similar concepts in many cities.

Bike Sharing System of Barcelona

Bike Sharing System of Barcelona

Thank you very much for reading! Have a great day… all boosters out there! Together we’ll make the world better, just keep on smiling! :D

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Why Resource-based Economies Need Tariffs

by John Brian Shannon

Joseph E. Stiglitz, Nobel laureate in economics and Professor at Columbia University has noted the problems inherent to resource-based economies in his recent and excellent article; “From Resource Curse to Blessing” which I urge you to read. Early into his piece, he says;

“On average, resource-rich countries have done even more poorly than countries without resources. They have grown more slowly, and with greater inequality – just the opposite of what one would expect.” — Stiglitz

The usual solution to the inevitable slowing of a resource-based economy is to facilitate ever more extraction — in the hopes that more resource dollars will stimulate growth and compensate for the lack of progress in other sectors.

Time and time again this fails to work and to make matters worse, other sectors of the economy grow weaker in almost direct correlation with mounting resource exports. Manufacturing often takes the greatest hit.

Moreover, resource-rich countries often do not pursue sustainable growth strategies. They fail to recognize that if they do not reinvest their resource wealth into productive investments above ground, they are actually becoming poorer. Political dysfunction exacerbates the problem, as conflict over access to resource rents gives rise to corrupt and undemocratic governments. — Stiglitz

The government line on this is usually; “We should concentrate on what we do best.” Which is fine except that in so doing, the rest of the economy slowly slips toward the day when the government must then announce; ‘The majority of the resources are gone, we now must rebuild our economy from scratch.” This is when economists are finally consulted and listened to — but are then expected to solve the entire problem by the weekend, with nothing more than a magic wand and an algebraic/transcendental incantation.

Resource-based economies should commit to robust and long-term economic development throughout the economy well before such cantrip is required.

Real development requires exploring all possible linkages: training local workers, developing small and medium-size enterprises to provide inputs for mining operations and oil and gas companies, domestic processing, and integrating the natural resources into the country’s economic structure. Of course, today, these countries may not have a comparative advantage in many of these activities, and some will argue that countries should stick to their strengths. From this perspective, these countries’ comparative advantage is having other countries exploit their resources.

That is wrong. What matters is dynamic comparative advantage, or comparative advantage in the long run, which can be shaped. Forty years ago, South Korea had a comparative advantage in growing rice. Had it stuck to that strength, it would not be the industrial giant that it is today. It might be the world’s most efficient rice grower, but it would still be poor. — Stiglitz

The problem of course, is how to fund the necessary investment in the non-resource economy. And what level of funding do non-resource sectors enjoy at the present? Less than you might imagine.

Of all solutions, the simplest usually work best. Which is why a nominal export tax is a necessary ingredient to any resource-based economy to assist the national economy maintain a quantitative balance.

After all, taxing natural resources at high rates will not cause them to disappear, which means that countries whose major source of revenue is natural resources can use them to finance education, health care, development, and redistribution. — Stiglitz

There is little need for domestic resource taxes in nations where the majority of resources are exported. Such ‘recycling’ of citizen’s money adds little ‘new money’ to the economy and irritates voters, while the most efficient economic performance enhancement available comes from export tariffs and FDI.

Both export tariffs and FDI revenue streams represent new money entering the system which means unlike domestic taxation, citizens are not paying for other citizens employment programs — foreign interests will be paying that bill.

When resource-based economies implement a 5% to 8% export tariff on every exported tonne of coal/metals/minerals, or barrel of oil, their economies will fire on all cylinders — and with little complaint from the rapidly growing and resource-hungry nations.

John Brian Shannon

Stimulus or Austerity: Can Either Succeed?

by John Brian Shannon

In the age-old debate between stimulus and austerity, many commentators fail to realize both schools of thought could be correct — and in fact, both are.

For one, look at the uncountable billions of stimulus added to the American economy during President Reagan‘s two terms. Unprecedented billions were directed towards defense, R&D, infrastructure — and even to Chrysler — although, strictly speaking, those were loan guarantees.

Do loan guarantees count as stimulus? Almost. And those guarantees tied up billions of U.S. Government dollars until they were no longer required — and served to establish and add gravitas to a new momentum in the U.S. economy. Courtesy of President Reagan’s leadership, I hasten to add.

When we look at historic stimulus, it works. When the stimulus is added at the first sign of recession it is most effective. Once all those factories are shuttered, trying to add stimulus to improve the economy is an uphill battle, every day.

The Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe at the end of WWII is a classic stimulus success story. Anyone who visited 1945 Europe and then visited again in 1960 can attest to that! About $40 billion dollars were used to stimulate the European economy — a lot of money in those days, even by United States’ standards.

Think of stimulus spending as emergency funding to keep the economy functioning. It really only works when applied immediately and at the first sign of recession.

For two, austerity does work. Although, it must be said, removing obscene debt and irresponsible deficits from a large economy constitute a major structural change. It is no band-aid solution — although as I said above, band-aids do work.

Austerity fixes the underlying structural problem — while stimulus fixes the symptoms, if you will.

There is no doubt about the Baltic austerity success story and there are others. You need only look as far as Canada in the 1990’s. Canada’s credit rating was on the rocks, the economy was in the tank and economic vital signs were heading in the wrong direction.

Prime Minister Jean Chretien and his astute Finance Minister Paul Martin, decided to adopt aggressive Canadian-style austerity and it worked (short-term pain for long-term gain) better than anyone had imagined. It just took some political leadership, unusually good communications with voters and some serious brainstorming.

A final word on economist’s everywhere. European economists work for Europe’s well-being, Chinese economists work for China, er, directly! While American economists work to arrange things to America’s advantage — you can’t begrudge any side for ‘playing for the home team’.

If the New York Times, Nobel Prize winning economist Professor Paul Krugman believes that it is in America’s best interests to float the economy with stimulus money, then he is right. Of course while agreeing with him, I always point out that stimulus is a merely a temporary fix and that additional deficit-financing (and accumulated debt) should be ‘pared down’ during the boom times.

Just as John Maynard Keynes suggested.

When this is not done, decade after decade, or should I say, recession after recession, it adds to the unbalanced economy and the entire economic structure is thereby weakened.

For now, stimulus — although it is almost too late for band-aids. Then, during the next boom, adroit movement towards zero-deficit financing — then, once that is achieved, regular scheduled debt paydowns after that.

Stimulus will stop the worst of the present economic malaise from taking an even higher toll — and later, austerity will begin to improve the entire structure of the U.S. economy.

John Brian Shannon

Will Global Sustainability Ever Be Possible?

by John Brian Shannon

If you haven’t seen these two short videos on demographics and sustainability from Professor Hans Rosling take the time to do it now. Hans at his best!

If you prefer to watch video 1 at www.ted.com click here>> “Hans Rosling Shows the Best Stats You’ve Ever Seen”

If you prefer to watch video 2 at http://www.ted.com here>> “Hans Rosling on Global Population Growth”

Bonus video from The Economist: “VideoGraphic: Global Fertility”

Bonus article from The Economist: “Go Forth and Multiply a Lot Less”

John Brian Shannon

John Brian Shannon

ABOUT JOHN BRIAN SHANNON

I write about green energy, sustainable development and economics. My blogs appear in the Arabian Gazette, EcoPoint, EnergyBoom, Huffington Post, United Nations Development Programme, WACSI — and other quality publications.

“It is important to assist all levels of government and the business community to find sustainable ways forward for industry and consumers.”

Green Energy blog: http://johnbrianshannon.com
Economics blog: https://jbsnews.wordpress.com
Twitter: @JBSCanada

 

The Donald. Unloved?

by John Brian Shannon

I happen to like Donald Trump. There is no doubt about his business acumen, his commitment to his family and his showmanship — and he articulates his thoughts very well.

As I was visiting the Twitterverse today looking for non-Olympics-related tweets or other newsworthy articles that I might like to read, I came across this tweet, apparently from ‘The Donald’ himself:

“I have founded and run one of the largest real estate empires in the world. I employ thousands of people. Why am I the enemy?” @realDonaldTrump 11:42 AM – 7 Aug 12 via web

Right off the bat, let’s agree that Donald Trump has founded and run one of the largest real estate empires in the world and employs thousands of people. I could now quote many articles and offer you a magnificent list of his worldwide properties and portray his wealth in many other ways. Which would take days to read. Zzzz.

Just for fun — after reading my short post, please take a look at the Donald J. Trump Wikipedia site. Many serious journalists do not like Wikipedia because they feel it is not an authoritative source for information (and good heavens — commoners can edit the articles there!) But if you look carefully at the bottom of the Wikipedia page, you can click on the links to the same Bibliography and Reference sources that real journalists use. Check out Donald J. Trump at Wikipedia here…

So the problem is not proving that Donald Trump is a billionaire, nor that he has sound business management and media qualities – all of it is easily proved by looking at his outstanding record of success. Oh yes, many people got exposed to a rapidly-changing real estate market years ago and Mr. Trump was one of those people. Notice that he came back stronger than ever?

“Why am I the enemy?” – Donald J. Trump

Human psychology is a funny thing. It makes us act in irrational ways and say odd things. It is not necessarily logical.

A good example of human psychology occurs when one person in a typical suburban neighbourhood purchases a brand-new Ferrari and drives it every day. Past all of those people who don’t have one.

About one-third of them will congratulate the happy owner on his new purchase, another one-third won’t care either way and the last third will begin hating that owner more powerfully each and every day they can see or hear that new Ferrari.

Why? Because it makes some people ultra-sensitive to the fact they haven’t got a new Ferrari and they start to realize that they are ‘missing out’. Which brings to the forefront of their consciousness that they may (or may not) have made some mistakes along the road of life and though at one time they were on-track to buy one, they cannot now buy one. Or, through no fault of their own, they just don’t make enough money to afford one and never will. Maybe they paid for their nephew’s cancer treatments with their life-savings, or something.

The point is, Mr. Trump can afford to drive a different Ferrari every day of the week – and you can’t. Which causes some people to become angry and to feel hostility towards anyone who is so obviously enjoying their success.

It is simply and profoundly, human nature at work. Is it irrational? Yes. Is it illogical? You bet. But it is human.

What would be better? Ferrari’s for everyone! Woo-Hoo! Yes, that would work… wouldn’t it? Unaffordable, but such great fun.

Much better, would be an education system which gives all students the tools to succeed at life, to weather storms and to overcome any obstacles on their way to becoming wealthy citizens themselves — contributing to our society. Let me put it plainly. Rather than continue to produce high school grads programmed to not succeed in some areas of their life, why not incorporate a sound business/financial education into the primary and high school curriculum geared towards personal financial success?

Instead of getting angry at the very wealthy, why don’t we begin educating 100% of our youth for an entire lifetime of financial success.

At this point, anything would be better than the large numbers of professional haters, people who hate successful individuals and their corporations. You know, those individuals who create jobs, add to the GDP of the nation and which help the government to counteract wealthy individuals and corporations from other parts of the world – ones definitely not benign to our Western way of life.

A nation of envious haters will not succeed. A nation of citizens properly educated and motivated for personal financial success, will!

John Brian Shannon

ABOUT JOHN BRIAN SHANNON

I write about green energy, sustainable development and economics. My blogs appear in the Arabian Gazette, EcoPoint, EnergyBoom, Huffington Post, United Nations Development Programme, WACSI — and other quality publications.

“It is important to assist all levels of government and the business community to find sustainable ways forward for industry and consumers.”

Green Energy blog: http://johnbrianshannon.com
Economics blog: https://jbsnews.wordpress.com
Twitter: @JBSCanada