The Buenos Aires City Government presented an upgrade today for their public biking system called Ecobici (“Eco-bikes”). You know, those pretty yellow bikes stationed at different points in the city.

Presented by PRO’s Cabinet Chief and mayoral hopeful Horacio Rodríguez Larreta and Transportation Deputy Secretary Guillermo Dietrich, this new project will gradually turn the City’s current Ecobici system.

The new format will have two kinds of stations: automatic and mixed. The first ones will have between 16 and 28 bikes available. Of the 200 stations, five will continue to provide the service given today, powered by actual humans to give technical support and perform operative tasks. These will be located in high-demand areas such as Obelisco, Once and Constitución, and will have a larger number of bikes available.

40 stations will become fully operative in March, the objective being to get to 200 by June.

Right now, the system works from Monday to Friday from 8:00 to 20:00 and Saturdays from 9:00 to 15:00. After March, it will be available 24/7, according to Dietrich.

To use the new service, people have to either pre-register at the website or just go any station and follow three simple steps:

  • Bring your ID and a service bill to your name, which can’t be more than two months old or overdue
  • Get a picture taken and create a PIN number
  • Sign an affidavit accepting the terms and conditions. It declares that you’ll be driving responsibly, accepts an eventual fine for not returning the bike or turning it in broken due to abuse and discharge due to repeated late returns

I didn’t read the terms and conditions (no one does, anyway) but the highlights are on the website. Feel free to check them out.

What if I’m a tourist and I don’t have a service bill to my name?

Worry not. You only have to go to the nearest station and present your Passport with a copy. Plus, you have to fill in your personal data and contact information, including where you’re staying and phone number. Sign the affidavit and bike away to discover everything beautiful Buenos Aires has to offer.

So, how does the service work after you register?

  • Compare the picture you got taken when you were half asleep and not really sure where you were standing with your shiny self and enter the PIN number.
  • Get the bike and a helmet (safety first, kids)
  • Travel to your location, preferably using the protected bike lanes. You’ve got an hour to go wherever you need to
  • Return the bike at the nearest station to your arrival point

And that’s it! now you can use this healthy means of transportation, arrive quickly to the point of your choosing and don’t have to stand next to that person in the bus who smells like they had to much garlic for lunch. Bikes are cool, everyone knows it.