Photo Gallery: Cycling in Centro Madrid

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By Dave Iltis — In February 2024, a couple members of the Cycling West crew traveled to Madrid, Spain. We didn’t ride while there due to time constraints and what we felt were not so great riding conditions. We did, however, take lots of photos which we present below.

We stayed in Centro Madrid, the old city, where the streets are mostly very narrow, one-way, and have little room for bikes, cars, and buses to share the road. Centro Madrid is just a small part of the Madrid metropolitan area. With a population of 150,000, it is a small slice of greater Madrid — population 7 million. Our decision not to ride in El Centro should not be construed as a commentary on cycling in the rest of the city, however others have noted the city’s lack of bike lanes.

Deliverista! Calle de Alcala’. Cycling in Madrid, Spain, 2024. Photo by Dave Iltis

That said, there are some positive things about cycling in Madrid, notably Bici Mad, Madrid’s bike share system, which has 611 stations and 7500 electric bikes. If you want to use Bici Mad, however, you must have a European phone number, that +1 won’t cut it. This was another barrier to cycling in Spain’s capital for us.

Delivery riders are everywhere, whereas delivery cars are not. This is welcome change from most US cities where the opposite is true. Similar to New York, Madrid’s food is delivered by bicycle. We saw a couple of bike paths, one protected bike lane, and lots of sharrows, which short of banning cars, were the only bike infrastructure possible on the narrow Centro streets.

We did see cyclists, but nowhere near as many as in other European cities. The website CyclingSpain.com notes, “Spain’s cities are becoming increasingly bike-friendly, but the capital of Madrid is still lagging behind. There is a lot of talk about expanding bike infrastructure, but developments are slow. Biking in Madrid is possible, but you have to be a seasoned cyclist. Madrid is a city made for cars with wide avenidas with four to six lanes. Bikes are formally considered vehicles and therefore can ride anywhere, to the dismay of many taxi and bus drivers who find cyclists particularly annoying.” 

Madrid was full of cars, and overall lacks bike lanes. Spain has told Madrid and other cities that they need to use EU funding to improve bike infrastructure; otherwise, they will lose the funding. When we return, we hope to find more bike infrastructure and have more time to ride. In the meantime enjoy the photo gallery.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Great collection of photos from España! My last time in Spain was in 1990 and there weren’t as many bikes as there are now. I’m glad to see the infrastructure is improving, but it at least shows that every place can improve. Like the mysterious quote says, “Amsterdam was not always Amsterdam”.

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