Now, don’t get me wrong; I love bikes and I love riding them. In spite of that, as a native New Yorker, the idea of urban biking has always been kind of daunting to me. Watching people ride their Citibikes along New York’s not-so-pedestrian-friendly streets scared me and I figured that classes at SoulCycle, the popular spinning gyms in New York and other cities across the US, was much more my speed. Even so, I always wondered what it would be like to use a bike sharing program and bike around a city. So when BiciMAD Madrid, the electric bikesharing program FINALLY made its debut earlier this summer, I found myself intrigued and decided to take the plunge. Why?

Perks of Madrid’s public bike sharing system:

  1. With my Abono de Transporte (public transportation pass), my annual membership would only cost me €15, plus a small charge every time I used a bike depending how long I would take it out for. A regular annual membership costs €25. (Compared to the $95 + tax for New York’s Citibike program, that’s quite a bargain).
  2. Madrid has lots of big parks to take bikes to and plenty of pedestrian neighborhoods where I wouldn’t feel so daunted riding my bike. And Paseo de la Castellana and Paseo de Recoletos also have islands in the middle that are pretty bike friendly too (minus the many slow walkers)
  3. On the days where hitting the gym is difficult with all of my different commitments, a bike ride would allow me to take advantage of Madrid’s sunny days and get a little workout on the side.
  4. Being an expat from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, I didn’t want to invest in a bike because I didn’t want to be stuck with trying to get it back over the Atlantic.

So here’s a guide to public bike rental in Madrid, aka BiciMAD:

Step One: Sign up online to get your abono anual (year-long membership)

I got on my computer and went to the BiciMAD website where you’ll see this page here:

Source: BiciMAD Homepage

You’re going to want to click on this little icon on the lefthand side that says “Inscríbete” (or Sign up):


That little button leads to here:

You can either use your NIE number (which shows up as Tarjeta Residente on the type of document option) or your passport number. I used my NIE number, but whatever document you use is up to you! You fill in all of the information that they ask you for. AND if you already have an Abono Transporte, be sure to look at your Abono and put the 22-digit number (WITHOUT SPACES) on your Tarjeta de Transporte Público to get the €10 discount off the regular price! They have a nice picture to show you where that number is.

After you enter all of your info, agree to the terms and conditions and check off the box saying you’re over 16 and then pay with your debit card. After I entered the confirmation code my bank sent me via SMS, I was all set. Once the payment is processed and you exit out of the payment window, BiciMAD Madrid will send you here:

Your payment has been processed. you will be emailed a code you need to collect your Abono Anual at any BiciMAD TOTEM (or bike station).

I also got an email with a code to use on the BiciMAD website and with the BiciMAD mobile app. In a matter of minutes, I was all set and ready to go!

Step two: Pick up my Abono Anual at a BiciMAD TOTEM

In Madrid, all of the bikesharing stations are called TOTEMS. They come with really cool screens that show you other stations in the area and can let you buy less-frequent BiciMAD passes. I was excited that I would be able to pick it up the same day instead of waiting for weeks, as with other “tramites”. Let’s say I was pleasantly surprised.

To pick up my pass, here’s what I had to do:

First, I went to the TOTEM and had to click on this icon:

Then, it led me to this screen here:

Remember, you enter the ID number you used to apply for the Abono Annual, and the code that the sent you via email!

And, finally, after all was said and done, I got it!

After this, was it easy to pedal through the streets of Madrid? Well, not exactly.

Important piece of advice:


When you buy your Abono Anual, you will be asked whether you want to also add saldo (money) onto the account. I wasn’t a very smart girl and didn’t put saldo on at the same time. So when I had that brilliant idea of riding to my nearest TOTEM home I stood around like a mindless idiot trying to get a bike unlocked so I could ride it. If you don’t add saldo at first, you’re not going to be able to add saldo at any TOTEM. You can only add saldo on the BiciMAD website or using the BiciMAD app (that’s why you never ever want to delete the email that they send your password with).

Want to get on a bike? Get started at

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