Tuesday, June 24, 2008

One Year On!


It's been a little more than a year since I started blogging, so I thought I'd provide updates on some of the topics I've written posts about:
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I've written a bit about Bicing, which also celebrated it's first year anniversary recently. Well, today's El País newspaper ran an article about the service's increasing growing pains: El Bicing genera 600 reclamaciones diarias por mal funcionamiento. (Bicing receives 600 complaints a day about technical problems.)
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This was based on information included in a report that City Hall made public yesterday, but which apparently had been making the rounds of municipal offices for a while. Perhaps the most damning part of the report was the revelation that a majority of users are dissatisfied with the functioning of the computerized stations where bikes are parked. Aside from some stations habitually not having bikes available, and others seeming to hardly ever have empty spaces for leaving-off a bicycle, other problems include system overloads which cause the whole computer network to fail. When this happens bikes cannot be removed from the stations and bikes that are left-off are not recognized as having been returned. Therefore, some people have been wrongly penalized for returning bikes late or fined for not returning bikes at all.
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More than 150,000 people currently subscribe to Bicing. Apparently a total of over 250,000 people have joined the program in the last 14 months, but more than 150 people drop out each month. Today Bicing has 367 stations and a fleet of 5,500 bicycles, with about 28 members for each bike. The plan is to grow the program to 6,000 bikes and 400 stations by September and then to postpone more growth until the operation of the service can be improved, for example, by installing a back up computer system to take over when the main one goes down.
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Who will pay for the improvements? The city will, although Clear Channel, the company that has the contract to run Bicing, was fined 22,000 euros this past January for not meeting the minimum quality indices that had been agreed to.
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Other statistics from the report included:
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- An average of 39,500 trips daily - 7.8 per bicycle.
- Each bicycle is ridden some 10,000 kilometers per year.
- As of last June 18, users had completed a total of 50,178 trips - 9.2 per bicycle.
- An average of six traffic accidents involving Bicing users are registered each month.
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If you are a Bicing user and want to have your voice heard, you can participate in a survey being conducted by researchers with Telefónica Investigación y Desarrollo (Research and Development) and the University of Washington. Click here to take the survey, which is available in English, Spanish and Catalan.
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By the way, I still hold a generally positive view of Bicing and am so glad that it exists. While not even close to perfect, it certainly has been a positive addition to my life -- and I bet it's better than anything they have in Paris!
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NEWSPAPERS / PERIÓDICOS
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A new daily newspaper appeared on the Spanish scene this past year. Público hit the stands in September, with the aim of attracting left of center readers in the 25-45 year old age group. The editor is 32 year old Ignacio Escolar, who is the son of journalist Arsenio Escolar, the editor of the free daily 20 minutos. The younger Escolar previously worked in television, radio and as a musician in the groups Meteostat and Dedcodek. He's also writes a popular blog called Escolanet.
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Of course, Público seems to be going head to head with El País, the country's other left leaning daily, which bills itself as, “the global Spanish language newspaper.” (El periódioco global en español) One of El País' directors, Juan Luis Cebrián, told the New York Times and International Herald Tribune, "We don't even see them as a competitor. It's like comparing The New York Times and The New York Post." So, I guess it was just a coincidence that the publishers of El País felt the need to revamp the paper last October, with the stated purpose of appealing to younger readers.
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Well, I still like El País, but I find that I like Público, too, and have been buying it pretty frequently. Anecodotically, I can say that many people I know seem to be doing the same.
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THE SUMMER SOLSTICE AND LA NOCHE DE SAN JUAN
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Another summer solstice / noche de San Juan came and went yesterday. Fantastic fireworks and thousands of party goers on Barcelona's streets and beaches. I read today that the local police estimated that there were 85,000 people on the city's “playas” last night. Of course the symbol of the year's shortest night is the bonfire, and so flames and firecrackers colored my neighborhood as usual, as well as all of Barcelona.
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However, it's not just Barcelona that celebrates la noche de San Juan. In towns in the Pyrenees there were traditional torchlight processions, Madrid saw urban bonfires and on Spain's islands there was fireside dancing in the moonlight.
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In Alicante, where one of the biggest San Juan festivals is held, the dazzling climax of the festivities won't happen until tonight. Larger than life wooden and paper maché figures are built by neighborhood associations as part of a city-wide competition and then are burnt to the ground at midnight on the 24th, setting the entire city aglow. What a way to welcome in the summer!
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THE ECONOMY
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Well, PM Zapatero couldn't quite bring himself to use the “c” word but at least he stopped using some of his favorite euphemisms (difficult scenario, period of adjustment) when he finally admitted yesterday that Spain's economy was in serious trouble. He couldn't let go of one ambiguity, however -- economic deceleration. At least he shuffled it along from a “deep deceleration ” to a “strong deceleration -- almost a sudden stop.”
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Better late than never? We'll have to wait and see if the 21 new proposals his government plans to make to address the CRISIS will do any good. So far the reaction has been muted to negative, with the governor of the Bank of Spain describing them as "insufficient." I wonder if that was a euphemism?
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Chao amig@s,
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Carloz

1 comment:

Sally said...

I was thrilled to read your update on Bicing. We were in Barcelona in June this year and saw the bikes everywhere. We wondered whether "clumping" at some locations was a problem. Tho did see a truck redistributing the bikes late in the afternoon.

We stayed in barceloneta, where I stayed in 2006 as well and I was interested to see what looked like bike lessons for adults taking place in the park. We assumed they were offered buy the city to encourage people to take up bicycling/ Yes or no???

PS The Barcelona sections of my Europe 08 blog are being edited right now.

In the meantime I can be found at Sydney Daily Photo