A Look at “Can anyone hate the bicycle?”

Published: 22 January 2024

Written by Anna Lefrançois | LinkedIn

Sevilla has been at the heart of a cycling success story. By implementing Sevici, a bicycle rental programme with stations, the city achieved the “steepest rise in trips made by bicycle recorded to date on the European scale (p. 14).”

Despite its impressive results, this “smart bike system” faced citizen resistance that this paper focuses on. Who holds such attitudes and what motivations underline these opposition discourses? As in similar cycling projects, two of the main concerns voiced by Sevici’s detractors were the obstruction of pedestrian mobility and the deterioration of the visual appeal of the historic old town. Exploring these two questions via a survey, Castillo-Manzano and Sanchez-Braza show how acceptability is constructed around socio-economic factors. Age and work appear to be the strongest influence in respondent’s views, with young and flexible workers being the most likely to respond positively to the Sevici scheme.

Interestingly, pedestrians were  likely to be supportive of the municipal scheme, despite being the ones supposedly disturbed by Sevici bikes. This shows the paradoxical logic of public reception and the motivations constructing opposition discourses. Here, the pedestrian’s experience of the public space is instrumentalized by other groups to favor their agenda and “defend the pre-eminence of automobiles over pedestrians (p. 13).

Another point emerging from Castillo-Manzano and Sanchez-Braza’s work is that cycling projects need to be supported by the whole municipality and not a single party if political bias is to be avoided. As it was promoted by a Communist-led department of the municipality, political prejudice appears as a clear causal factor in Sevici’s opposition. Respondents who disagreed with the Communist management of the city were also more likely to report negative marginal effects of the Sevici programme.

This article will appeal to anyone seeking to unveil the underlying competing interests in anti-cycling discourse and opposition movements. It is a must read for any municipality wanting to implement a public cycle hire scheme 


Castillo-Manzano, J.I. and Sánchez-Braza, A. (2013) “Can anyone hate the bicycle? the Hunt for an optimal local transportation policy to encourage bicycle usage,” Environmental Politics, 22(6), pp. 1010–1028. https://doi.org/10.1080/09644016.2012.740936

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