After the previous post outlining the transport system in Spain, now we will continue with other means of transport that can be used for both short and long distances: motorbike, car, taxi and peer to peer transportation.
Motorbikes and Scooters
Two-wheeled transport is popular in cities, especially scooters. Look out for them, particularly if you are driving. Watch out for winter weather if your location is in continental Spain since it can get cold, particularly at night.
Since the places where most people live in Spain have mild temperatures at daytime during most of the year, it is common to see many motorbikes during weekends and holidays. Many clubs/associations exist across the country.
Events happen all year long. If you are into them, you should be aware of two international and ‘unique’ ones that take place in January in Valladolid (Continental Spain): Pingüinos (Pinguins) and Motauros (Motor-Taurus). Yeah, you must be resilient to cold and love these large gatherings to attend them.
Since Spain joined the European Union in 1986, there has been big support from the EU in the construction of roads, resulting in the developing of an extensive network of dual carriageways, both free (“autovías”) and toll (“autopistas). As a consequence, since 1986 the length of the highways network has more than tripled, reaching over 15000 kilometers in 2016, occupying the third position in the world after China and the US.
Like in any other country, attention must be paid to traffic jams in rush hour (mainly/roughly from 7.30 am through 9.30 am) in large cities. Also, unless you inhabit the North of Spain where people are more used to it, traffic jams significantly increase when it is raining, not to mention on the rare occasions when it snows.
Although the official launching of Tesla in Spain in 2017 has contributed to the increase in its usage, the number of electric cars is very, very low. In that year, their market share was 0.7% (8645 cars). The main reason for this low adoption is the lack of charging points/stations (2621 versus 29998 in the Netherlands), the main part of them being in Barcelona and Madrid. The good news for the early adopters is the availability of free or highly discounted parking in city centres.
Overall, I think that Spain has a good road system, although using the toll highways is expensive. In rush hour in large cities avoid using the car whenever possible in favour of the metro, train, or bus if it has a dedicated lane.
Taxi and Peer-to-Peer Transportation
Taxi services are safe in Spain and official cars are clearly distinguished. When getting into them, beyond the fare, other charges (stations, pieces of baggage) must be considered. For certain metro areas and routes (for example, from the airport to city center), there are fixed prices.
The cost per kilometer varies significantly depending on where you are, and also whether it is during working hours, at night, or on a bank holiday. It must however be stated that taxis in Spain are cheaper than in most parts of Europe.
In recent years we have witnessed the rise of peer-to-peer transportation, its availability primarily dependent upon the size of the municipality, the number of tourist, and local regulations allowing peer to peer services such as Cafiby, Über or, for medium and long-range travel, Bla-Bla Car. The latter is the least problematic in terms of laws that limit or impede it.
Like in most places, the cost of the taxi license has plummeted, resulting in controversy around these services. General dissatisfaction with the taxi service has also motivated many users to move to peer to peer services, which it is also related to a predictable fare. If you are not (perceived as) a local, the final price to your destination with a taxi might not be as reasonable as you would expect.
On the personal note, a thing that particularly annoys me about the taxi versus peer-to-peer is that the former rarely care about your radio preferences.
In the next post of this series we will look at the train system.
Links of Interest:
Autopista, Países con más kilómetros de autovías (Countries with more km of highways)
Bla-Bla Car, Compartir coche en España (Sharing a car in Spain)
Cafiby, Rates for Madrid
Cesvimap, Países con más kilómetros de autovías (Countries with more km of highways)
Estrella Digital, España cierra el paso al coche eléctrico (Spain blocks the way to the electric car)Ministerio de Fomento, Plano general de carreteras (Roads system map)
Pingüinos, Espíritu (Spirit)
Motauros, Historia (History)
Über, Blog (Spanish edition)
Photos: Street with cars and sea views in Fuerteventura, Canary Islands. Board in Madrid City Centre signalling the start of Spain’s radial highways (Kilometro 0). Taxis in Barcelona.