When opting to cruise around Barcelona on two wheels that are only powered solely by you, there is one key, salient fact to keep in mind:
The bicycle is not seen as a valid form of transportation in Spain
If you remember that, pretty much everything else is crystal clear. It helps to explain why, when riding around and actually trying to get somewhere, properly using a bike lane, you will get slowed down by someone on a Bicing bike moving slower than the pedestrians or our defined definition of linear existence. The advent of this shared biking system has been hailed as a grand success, but most everyone I know who uses it just takes it to go downhill without peddling, incredibly slowly. That uphill part is for the Metro and the bike is to be returned back up the hills by the city vans that shuttle these bikes about town, making the point of them idiotic.
But that’s just part of it. Unlike Northern Europe wherein an entire bike culture exists for people to properly get places, in Spain, there is the general perception that bikes are a) for lollygagging on the weekends or b) for hardcore road enthusiasts who need to have a pace car protect their fragile selves on the open roads. For both of these reasons bicycles are generally hated, even before you get to the fact that riding around in July and August isn’t terribly pleasant, especially for those who receive your pedaling stank when you arrive at your destination.
With that in mind, it’s no wonder then that people are often strolling in bike lanes or parked in them (a grand sport of taxis drivers.) If there’s work to be done, service trucks will use the bike lane as if it’s a convenient parking space like you see in the photo above on Carrer d’Aragó. People will stand in bike lanes to have their two hour post-lunch chat. In short, it’s a world of hurt to bike around Barcelona.
Naturally, cycling isn’t without pain in places like San Francisco which, despite the incorrect belief that it’s impossible with the hills, there you’re fighting traffic given that you generally need to ride in the street. In some ways, in Barcelona that’s actually easier as drivers in Spain are considerable better than in the US. While just as self-centered at times, they realize that if they hit a cyclist, the game is over.
The only real competitor on the streets are the motos. They see cyclists as someone showing them up as riding a bicycle offers all the convenience of parking anywhere that they believe they have with a moto, except that it’s legal and you are far less inclined to be a sack of misshapen, jiggling fat when riding a bike as opposed to a moto. Being that as it may and the fact that the “license” to operate a moto is much easier to get than that for a car, you are constantly battling the motos, especially as they often find the bike lanes to be a convenient short cut, which is naturally illegal like most everything this pudgy subspecies does when driving their moto.
But when the bike lanes are clear, the weather is nice, and your tires are properly inflated, you can get around Barcelona insanely fast on a bike and it makes up for the holes in coverage with the Metro, although those are often served by the fleet of buses in Barcelona that drive faster than even the taxis, although that’s another story.